86th Annual Zilker Kite Festival (Austin, TX, USA) Event Recap

A mainstay festival in Austin is the annual Kite Festival at the beloved Zilker Park right in the heart of the city. It happens in early March, at the mercy of the the fickle winter weather, and last year's festival felt the brunt of some awful weather and was ultimately cancelled. I was really looking forward to attending this year and with the weather being dicey leading up to it I was still optimistic and so were the organizers.

Hooray! The rain decided to stay clear that day but the warm temperatures were nowhere to be found. Instead, attendees were tested with temperatures in the mid 40s and gusty winds, which were perfect for kite flying! I got off the shuttle and made my way to the park at around 2pm, looking up the kite blanketed sky. There were kites of various sizes, colors and shapes - dragons, flags, birds, triangles, you name it and it was probably flying high in the sky. 

This is at its core a kid friendly event, but there were many adults who were pretty serious with their kite flying. At the very center of the park was a cordoned of arena for the competitive kite flyers contending for categories such as "Largest Kite", "Most Unusual Kite" and "Steadiest Kite".

If you didn't bring a kite with you, don't fret, HEB (a local grocery chain) provided supplies to make a very basic kite. Even the sponsors want to get you in the action and I was handed an assembled kite which I failed at flying quite miserably and ended up in the trash. It was fun to see parents teaching their kids how to fly a kite, which tested the patience of both parties. In my opinion, kite flying seems to be a lost art and it is certainly not as popular compared to decades prior, making this festival crucial to keeping the interest level for this hobby above a mere dying pulse.

All in all, the Kite Festival is definitely a must-go event if you are in town in early March. The unique kites you will bear witness to alone is worth the visit and the family friendly atmosphere, bevy of food trucks and paying a visit to this gorgeous park with the downtown skyline as the backdrop is certainly icing on the cake. Yes, the chilly weather will limit your stay to a couple of hours at most, but it is still worth it! There were enough warm beverage vendors to keep you warm while you enjoy your kite watching!

Pro Tips:

  • Bring a chair with you! I was jealous of everyone kicking back on a camping chair and watching the kites soar.
  • It was cold, really cold, be prepared for it and don't let it shorten your visit prematurely.
  • Give kite flying a shot! It's a blast if you know what you're doing. When your kite is dragging on the ground or stuck in a tree, you're doing it wrong.
  • If you wait towards the end of the event (around 4pm) some vendors will start giving away their perishable wares for free, including sodas, hot dogs and chips!

For the full photo gallery, please go here.

Keep Austin Weird!

-N