Kite Festival WeiFang
WeiFang belonged to the sphere of influence of the historical 'Warring States' ( 战国时代, ZhanGuo ShiDai). The city developed into the most important place of kite production in China during the Ming and Qing dynasties. The world's largest International Kite Festival is celebrated in WeiFang every spring since 1984. In 1988 Weifang was declared the kite capital of the world, and the following year the World Kite Federation (International Kite Federation, IKF) was founded.
The kite festival always takes place on the third weekend of April. In April 2010, due to the eruption of the Icelandic volcano 'Eyjafjallajoekull' and the subsequent disruptions to international air traffic, the Festival could only be held on a a smaller scale. In 2020 the International Festival was canceled due to the Corona pandemic.
The first festivals from 1984 until the 1990s took place in the urban area, and from 2000 until 2015 in FuYanShan. Nowadays the festival takes place in WeiFang's Kuiwen district (奎文, KuiWen) and its BinHai resort, which has been continuously developed since 1995. BinHai (滨海, literally: coast on the sea) is located directly on the BoHai Sea, has a large beach and vast open spaces. In the meantime, a new kite sport field had been opened. The vast grassy spaces are ideal for the largest kite festival in the world, because performing show kites are becoming larger and larger. Inflatable kites are increasingly conquering the sky above the airfields. This is quite understandable, since the public often has to watch all those presentations from a far distance Nevertheless, the audience should also be shown something spectacular. On the other hand, for safety considerations, kite flying needs to be restricted in areas with public assess. BinHai has a kite surfing center for international competitions located directly on the beach. Meanwhile, kite surfing has also become an established Olympic sport.
Unlike kitesurfing, due to the variety of kites and kite types, a general standardization for a worldwide kite regime is hardly possible. So far, this has prevented initiating corresponding global Olympic kite competitions. Thus the WeiFang International Kite Festival still stays all by itself with its unique and outstanding characteristics. Kite competitions on a large scale has also been part at the Asian Games in the 1960s until the early 1970s. Th former TRAXX Games, and its successor the TAFISA Games for traditional sports occasionally also had and has kite flying in its program (Jakarta, Indonesia in 2016).
All competitions take place under the strict eyes of the national and international referees according to sophisticated rules. Line angle and even height measurements are done with professional telemetric equipment. Occasionally there is a parade through the city of WeiFang during the day or at night. Usually there is an award ceremony, and in the evening there is often a big gala performance or another big reception.
For the last few years on the first day of the festival, a night kite competition with illuminated kites had been held in the city. The second day is mainly devoted to the actual competitions, which often also require teamwork for a successful competition. The atmosphere is very familiar. but also may require sporting efforts. For some years now, there have been National Championships for traditional kites in various categories. You may be able to watch and admire a large variety of different skills of traditional kite builders and artists. Very common within traditional contests are the kite fighting competitions in various styles, encompassing 'line cutting' and / or 'forcing out'. The Pan-Ying competitions use a kind of flat eagle-kites, (盘 鹰, pan-ying; literally "flat eagle"). These contests may even be performed by top notch masters in enclosed rooms like lobbies or sports halls.
A special highlight are the Centipedes contests, and competitions of other kinds of kite chains, kite lines and kite arcs. Especially within these conpetitions, teamwork is the order of the day. Team flight competitions, also named 'kite ballet' in Chinese (风筝 芭蕾, FēngZhēng BāLěi), need a lot of appropriate co-operation within the team, to perform an elaboratly composed and good choreography to the chosen music.
But there are also more contemplative moments, moments of international social intercourse and friendship. And for the connoisseur, there are always amazing opportunities for international cultural exchange, that are quite spectacular, but mostly do not reach a large audience. This is especially true for Mini Kites. On the large fairground, these kites can only be seen when you are very close to them. During all the contests, competitions take place according to sophisticated rules under the strict supervision of the national and international referees. Line angle and height measurements are carried out by professional telemety.
Occasionally during the day or at night time, there is a parade along the streets of WeiFang. Usually in the evening, there is often a big gala performance or another kind of big reception for the awarding ceremony. On the last day of the festival, there is often an excursion. It may be a visit to the kite museum and other cultural institutions, a trip to the kite-building villages, visitings of kite manufacturers and other kinds of events.