Before there was ACL Fest, before there was SXSW, even before there was the Pecan Street Festival, there was the Zilker Kite Festival. This Sunday, the 90th Annual ABC Kite Fest, one of Austin’s most beloved yearly events, will continue the tradition in robust fashion.
Founded to encourage kids’ creativity (according to the official website), the Kite Fest has blossomed over the years into a colorful rite of spring for hundreds and is one of the longest-running such festivals in the country as well as one of the city’s most well-known events.
The family-friendly event offers day-long activities for all ages, including the traditional kite flying contest and showcase, a fun run, and MossFest, a children’s music concert.
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 30 percent chance of rain on Sunday, March 31, when this year’s event is scheduled to take place. The event site doesn’t list a rain date but suggests you call the Kite Fest hotline at (512) 448-KITE (5483) or follow it Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook for updates. Any weather-related decision will be posted by 9 a.m. on the day of the festival.
Ever the optimists, we’re going to bet on Sunday being sunny, just the right temperature, and just the right amount of windy.
While it might seem like participating in the free event is a pretty simple process (show up to Zilker Park with a kite, fly it), its popularity and location in the central city mean there are a few other essentials to keep in mind when heading for the fest.
• Booths open at 10 a.m., registration for the kite contest starts at 11 a.m., and the contest events start at 1 p.m. The festival closes at 5 p.m.
• Admission is free, but you do need to register for the Anteater Fun Run. You can also buy tickets to be part of the High Flyer Club, which get you VIP parking access, parking, a catered lunch and dinner, and other perks.
• No parking at Zilker The fest site has several parking and transportation options—including details about special needs and bicycle parking. Scooters? Who knows?
• There will be a festival shuttle as well as the usual public transportation, ride-hailing, and dockless mobility options (not to mention walking, jogging, or riding your own bike). Using some of those options rather than driving to the festival is encouraged.
• In addition to parking limitations, Barton Springs Road will be closed from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. for the fest.
• No booze, glass, or styrofoam containers. (You can bring food/non-alcoholic drinks, but there will also be many vendors of delicious foods there.) No grilling—there are burn bans in place in the park.
• 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.
• Dogs: You can bring them! If they are on a leash! They can even ride the festival shuttles! There is also a “Doggie Den”/playground for them to hang out in. Pick up their poop and dispose of it properly, of course.