The Bali Kites Festival is a series of kiting events that take place annually between July and August (sometimes through October), notably at the start of the windy season. The kite festivals are one of Bali’s major provincial calendar highlights presenting unique cultural scenes on par with the preceding the Bali Arts Festival. The festival is scheduled for various dates, with main events customarily taking place along the eastern coast of Padanggalak, just north of Sanur.

Hundreds of competing kite troupes gather from all over the island to pilot their traditional kites, alongside international teams with modern kites in various shapes and sizes.

What started off as a seasonal agrarian festival thanking the heavens for abundant crops and harvests, has become a competitive ground for communal ‘banjar’ youth groups who send their ‘sekaa layangan’ kite teams to participate and win prize money from sponsors. A competition is also usually held for ‘new creation’ kites, which may include detailed three-dimensional figures and unusual designs, from Hindu gods, cars and motorbikes, to mascots and brand sponsors.

The Balinese traditional kites are gigantic and have evolved into increasingly bombastic proportions over the years, measuring up to four meters in width and 10 meters in length. Some other versions, such as the ‘janggan’ type have impressive flowing ribbon tails often reaching 100 metres or more in length.

The ‘bebean’ type is the most common design with a traditional outline of a fish, and is the common ‘giant kite’ of Bali that dominates the skies. The ‘janggan’ somewhat resembles birds with shorter and rounder wings and their long flowing ‘kedeber’ ribbon tails often outshine the kite’s body once airborne. Categories to win include ‘best launch’, ‘best design’ and the ‘longest flight’.

Don’t worry if you missed out on the main opening festival events in July. There are various competitions to witness throughout the second half of the year, which are also highlighted annually as part of the festivity.