Ultimate Guide to the 2017 Berkeley Kite Festival

Joe Dickerson
Published on July 27, 2017

Ultimate Guide to the 2017 Berkeley Kite Festival

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One of the East Bay’s most anticipated summer events is coming up this weekend (Saturday, July 29 – Sunday, July 30). That’s right, I’m talking about the 2017 Berkeley Kite Festival.

This huge FREE outdoor event at the Berkeley Marina is famous for its larger-than-life octopus kites and is the annual gathering site for kite lovers throughout the Bay Area, from novices to pro kite flying teams.

If you’re looking for a great date idea or memorable family outing, look no further. The 2017 Berkeley Kite Festival should be on everyone’s summer bucket list. You can even bring your furry four-legged friends along. 🐶

Highline Kites in Berkeley founded the Berkeley Kite Festival in 1986, making this the 31st annual event. As you can imagine, the event has grown over the years, going from a local gathering of kite enthusiasts to a huge 2-day event attracting crowds from across the Bay Area and beyond.

This year, the Berkeley Kite Festival takes place on Saturday, July 29th, and Sunday, July 30th. Scheduled events begin at 10am both days and run through 6pm, and trust me, it’s a PACKED schedule. There are rokkaku kite battles, kite making events and lessons, kites for sale, and even sport kite demonstrations. 

The Berkeley Kite Festival is a very family friendly event, with a dedicated kids zone, in addition to kite flying lessons, free kite making sessions, and even a candy drop (don’t worry, they drop healthy snacks too!). What can you expect in the kids zone? Everything you need to keep the littles busy all day (and tire them out!), including games, pony rides, bouncy houses, arts and crafts, face painting, and a petting zoo.

PRO TIP #1: Bring sunscreen, sunglasses, hats, good walking shoes, and water, and dress in layers.

Okay okay, that tip could probably apply to any Bay Area event, but here’s why it’s particularly important for this event. The 2017 Berkeley Kite Festival takes place at Cesar Chavez Park at the Berkeley Marina, a huge waterfront park with pretty much no shade. 

Since there’s so much to do and see at the festival, you’re going to want to stay a while, hence the need for sun protection. And because the event is quite massive and sprawling, you’ll be doing a fair bit of walking, so make sure you’re wearing comfortable shoes, bring strollers for the littles, and have water handy.

As for the layers, the Berkeley Marina is right on the water, so the area can be very windy at times. (Great for flying a kite, eh?) While it will be sunny this weekend, the breeze can be chilly at times, so come prepared.

PRO TIP #2: Get there early if you can.

For those of you who are crowd-averse like I am, try to get their early in the day, while most people are still rubbing the sleep out of their eyes and stumbling to a late morning brunch. Crowds tend to be thinner in the morning.

Based on personal experience, I can tell you that the Berkeley Kite Festival is an incredibly popular and busy event, with tons of people and traffic. While the event is free, parking is $15 at the Golden Gate Fields, which includes shuttle service.

Map Source: Highline Kites

However, if you’re open to a bit of a walk, you can park across I-80 from the Berkeley Marina and walk the 1.5ish miles over (about 20 minutes). There are plenty of people who take the pedestrian bridge over, so just follow the steady streams of people.

Alternatively, you can hop on your bike and take advantage of the free valet bike parking. And if you’re on a date, you can rent bikes and make a day of it!

 PRO TIP #3: Bring cash, picnic blankets, and/or lawn chairs.

The Berkeley Kite Festival is not one of those events you spend half an hour at and then move on with your day. The sheer scale of the location, along with the packed schedule of events, makes this a destination you should devote a good amount of time to, at least half a day if you can.

There are plenty of food vendors on site, or you can pack your own picnic lunch. If buying food, bring cash monies, just in cases. There’s an ATM on site, and some food trucks take credit card, but just to be on the safe side.

Be sure to bring picnic blankets or lawn chairs too. There’s PLENTY of space to set up your picnic and snack on goodies while you watch the vibrant kites dance along the blue skies and enjoy the sunshine.

If I haven’t yet convinced you to head out to the 2017 Berkeley Kite Festival this weekend, check out some rave reviews and more insider tips on Yelp, or check out this epic octopus kite launch. 🐙😮

Recap

To recap, here’s all the important info you’ll need to enjoy the 2017 Berkeley Kite Festival.

Dates: Saturday, July 29th – Sunday, July 30th

Times: 10am – 6pm both days

Location: Cesar Chavez Park at the Berkeley Marina

Admission: Free

Good for: All ages

Parking: $15 at Golden Gate Fields, or free valet bike parking

 

 

Hope to see you there!

 

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