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Austin’s favorite springtime tradition takes flight at Zilker Park

Austin’s favorite springtime tradition takes flight at Zilker Park

A balloon rainbow stands in Zilker Park during ABC Kite Fest.
Kites dot the sky at Zilker Park in a competitive but relaxing, time-honored Austin tradition. ABC Kite Fest/Instagram

After the overstimulation of Austin’s festival season in March, we could all use some time outside to watch life float by on the breeze. The April 3 return of ABC Kite Fest gives all Austinites a nudge to get out to Zilker Park, get relaxed, and get inspired.

It may seem like a kite festival would not be especially elaborate, but now in its 93rd year, there’s been plenty of time to innovate. The Exchange Club of Austin created the event as a contest in 1929, (quite progressively) hoping to inspire children to be creative.

Since then, it has expanded to include a concert, “VIP hospitality,” and a dog-friendly zone with an agility playground. Although it centers around kids’ activities, there are plenty of opportunities for adults to challenge themselves, or simply enjoy the spectacle.

The contest page on the website calls for the “fastest, strongest, and weirdest kites!” There are nine categories divided by age of the kite flyer, flying capability (highest angle kite), and kite design (most unusual kite). The Best Kite Pilot category encourages kids to use costumes and props, adding some pageantry to the satisfying nerdiness of super technical kite flying.

While kids do have some categories to themselves, they have several opportunities to work alongside adults, either in their own subcategory or in open events. Of course, kids participating in homemade kite categories will need some help at home, but some categories welcome manufactured apparatuses (in case of busy or not very technically inclined parents).

Between kite voyages, families can visit the stage to see MossFest, the children’s benefit concert celebrating the life of John “Moss” Pieratt Jr., whose memory inspires research and awareness efforts in sudden unexplained death in childhood. The Moss Pieratt Foundation partners with ABC Kite Fest to honor Moss’ love of music and bring support to families experiencing SUDC.

This year’s lineup includes The Barton Hills Choir, a youth choir with a classic rock focus; singer-songwriter Mr. Will; a jazz, folk, and classical band of actual adults, The Magnolia Kids; and a family band of powerful Mexican-American sisters, The Tiarras. As at any great Austin festival, there will be a food court with local bites from the famous Amy’s Ice Creams, delivery service RosieJo Meals, and more.

Admission to ABC Kite Fest on Sunday, April 3, is free at Zilker Park. More information on getting there, including parking passes and free Cap Metro rides, is available at abckitefest.org.