Update, March 11: The city website informs us that the Zilker Kite Festival “has been canceled due to the weather and impact the rain has had on the park grounds.” See y’all next year!
Update: The event did indeed get pushed to its rain date: Sunday, March 12. The city website informs us that it’s on, but you might want to check it before you go if there’s a possibility of rain that day.
Now in its 88th (!) year, Austin’s annual kite festival at Zilker Park is the longest-running such fest in the country and one of the city’s most well-known events.
That’s for good reason: Founded to encourage kids’ creativity (according to the official website), it has blossomed into a colorful rite of spring for hundreds to enjoy every year.
Because of its timing (and because it’s a kite festival, duh), the weather plays an important role in the fest. So you should know that, as of today, there’s a 50 percent chance of rain on Sunday, March 5, when this year’s event is scheduled to take place. (There’s also a rain date—Sunday, March 12—which could be fun because it coincides with the first weekend of SXSW.)
Ever the optimists, we’re going to bet on Sunday being sunny, just the right temperature, and just the right amount of windy. Below are a few essentials to keep in mind when heading for the fest.
• The festival is now called the ABC Kite Festival, named after the business that saved it. According to a story on the local Spectrum News website, the fest, which had been run by The Exchange Club of Austin, faced an uncertain future in recent years due to a dearth of donations. Local philanthropist and owner of ABC Commercial Services Bobby Jenkins stepped in this year to start sponsoring the festival, with a 25-year contract to do so, and the Exchange Club will continue to operate it.
• The only rule (not really, but an important one) is that contest entrants must make their own kites (there are prizes in kid and adult categories for many different achievements, including highest-angle kite, steadiest kite, smallest kite, and more) . There are instructions of the event’s website as well as a kite-making workshop onsite.
• There will be kite vendors onsite if you want to be a noncompetitive flier.
• Admission is free, but you do need to register for the Anteater Fun Run and pay/get tickets for the Gourdough’s (yum) VIP Breakfast.
• No booze, glass, or styrofoam containers. (You can bring food/non-alcoholic drinks, but there will also be many vendors of delicious foods at the fest.)
• No parking at Zilker (Barton Springs Road will be closed from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. for the fest. The fest site has several parking and transportation options.
• Dogs: You can bring them! If they are on a leash! There is also a “Doggie Den”/playground for them to hang out in. Pick up their poop and dispose of properly, of course.
Below is the full day’s schedule. There are many ancillary family activities and lots of other arcana you can find on the Kite site.
9:00 Breakfast begins & Fun Run registration opens
9:30 Fun Run begins
9:45 Buses arrive
10:00 Festival opens, MossFest music begins & Display kites begin flying
11:00 Kite contest registration begins
1:00 Kite contest begins & MossFest music ends
3:00 Display kites end
5:00 KiteFest ends
5:30 Last bus departs