If you’re coming over to Bali in the coming months you can’t help but notice the enormous variety of kites fluttering about in the blue skies above the lush rice paddies and golden beaches of Bali ‘The Island of the Gods’ at this time of year. With the now almost continuous easterly breezes coming with the change of the monsoon all activities wind related are going full steam ahead here in Sanur with kite flying, kite surfing, wind surfing and sailing taking full advantage of the trade winds.
Between 18th-20th July this year Sanur Beach hosts the Bali Kite festival which now in its 35th year is a massive event attracting upwards of 10’000 spectators with around 1200 kites taking to the heavens in all shapes, sizes, designs and colors to wow the crowds.
Kite flying in bali is a serious sport with huge religious significance where village teams some comprising of whole communities as large as 70-80 members complete with their own Gamelan orchestras, cheerleaders, standard bearers, and food and drink stalls get together to make up these massive kites. Some Kites can measure as large as 10 meters long and 4 m wide taking an army of 20 men sprinting at full speed for hundreds of meters along the beach, without stopping for anything in their way, sending spectators and festival organizers scattering for cover, to get these very behemoths airborne!!
Throughout the process of constructing these giant flying machines the kites are blessed and elaborate rituals performed at every step of the process to bestow the kites with good luck for the upcoming festivals and in days gone by kite flying in Bali was performed as a way of sending messages and offerings high into the skies and soaring into the heavens for the attention of the Gods. The most popular forms of kite still take on the appearance of Hindu deities such as fish ( Bebean) and birds ( Janggan ).
The kites are judged on their ease of takeoff and landing, stability in the air and their design. Stiff rivalry exists between the teams as they openly mock, taunt and tease each other as the kites fall out of the sky or collide in mid air, let alone not even getting into the air as a team crashes headfirst into the beach in a tangled heap of limbs and kite strings during takeoff !! There is a carnival atmosphere and football style chanting mingles with the manic but beautiful warbling of the Gamelan orchestra which provides an enchanting musical backdrop to the event as it does with most events in Bali.
Bali kite festival is a really great family friendly event and a real spectacle not to be missed if you are over here diving with the All 4 Diving team during mid-July.