The fireworks may be over, but there are still plenty of reasons to look to the sky. The Berkeley Kite Festival takes over Cesar E. Chavez Park at the Berkeley Marina during the weekend of July 26 and 27. With hundreds of kites from all over the world, including the largest octopus kite on the planet (it requires a trained team of dozens of kite fliers to pilot it), clearly, these windy day faves aren’t just for kids anymore. Experience the excitement and artistry of modern kite flying, from the Giant Creature Kites as big as houses to the free kite making stations and candy drops. Keep your neck craned to experience the amazing stunt kites and battles. There’s no doubt about it: mom, dad, and the kiddos will all have something to ooh and ahh over at the 29th Annual Berkeley Kite Festival.
When to Go: July 26th – 27th from 10:00 am–6:00 pm
Insider Tip: Be sure to check the wind conditions before heading out. Highline Kites, the festival sponsor, has constant online updates.
Admission & Getting There: The kite festival is free for all. Held at Cesar Chavez Park at the Berkeley Marina, limited parking is available at the Marina, off University Exit on I-80, and costs $15. Other options include parking on the east side of I-80 and taking the scenic route via the footbridge, parking at Golden Gate Fields via the Buchanan/Albany exit and using the free shuttle provided for the weekend, or using various means of public transportation. Check out the other options here.
Insider Tip: Want to pull out the two wheeler for the weekend? Richmond Spokes is offering complimentary Bike Valet both days of the festival.
What to Do: There is no lack of activities for the whole family during the kite fest. Taiko drummers will be drumming and the Kite Ballet will be dancing. The kiddos can get down to business and learn not only how fly a kite but how to make one too. Free kite making stations will be open both Saturday and Sunday from 11:00 am–1:00 pm, so build away and then head for the free kite flying lessons, running nearly all day from 11:00 am–4:00 pm.
Be sure to find the special highlights of the festival, especially the Sode-Cho Kite Team of Hamamatsu, Japan. Learn about their “Machijirushi” kites and get ready to be wowed when watching the fiercely-contested kite battles, known as Rokkaku kite battles.
What about the world’s largest flying octopus? At 300 feet long, this guy will have fans caught up in its gigantic glory, flying high among the other Octopiles, a.k.a really big kites, flown by the Berkeley Kite Wranglers. With over 10 or 12 wranglers in action, get ready to be mesmerized by nearly 35,000 square feet of kites!
Insider Tip: Have a kite of your own? Never fear, a special portion of the marina has been reserved for families wanting to do a little flying themselves. Or better yet, take that brand new handmade kite for a spin!
What to Eat: Offering the largest, most diverse selection of food ever seen at the festival, families can nosh on sushi, Thai food, pretzels, corn on the cob and Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. Don’t forget, this is a great place for a picnic, and what better way to enjoy a sunny weekend lunch than on the lawn, looking up at a glorious kite-filled sky?
Bonus: Join the crews and teams making the festival possible on a Hornblower dinner cruise on Sunday, July 27th. Kick back and enjoy the bay views while bidding on the silent auction and cheering on the festival award winning kites and fliers. As a Festival VIP, the dinner cruise is being offered at nearly half price. Reserve your spot here.
Does your family have a favorite kite-flying spot?
photos courtesy of ingridtaylar via Creative Commons, Highline Kites, and Jean L. via Yelp
—Gabrielle Cullen and Erin Feher