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Bali Kites Festival
July 1, 2018 - October 31, 2018
The Bali Kites Festival is a kiting event that takes place annually, between July and August (sometimes through October). It kicks off notably at the start of the windy season in Bali. The main festival takes place along the eastern coast of Padanggalak, just north of Sanur. This is usually held near the end of June and confirmed following favourable weather. Hundreds of competing kite troupes gather from all over the island to pilot their traditional kites. Oftentimes, alongside international teams with modern kites in various shapes and sizes. The kite festival in Bali started off as a seasonal agrarian festival. It was held to thank the heavens for abundant crops and harvests. The festivals then became a competitive ground for communal ‘banjar’ youth groups, who send their ‘sekaa layangan’ kite teams to participate and win prize money. A competition is also usually held for ‘new creation’ kites. These may include detailed three-dimensional figures and unusual designs, ranging from Hindu gods, cars and motorbikes, to mascots and brand sponsors. A gamelan orchestra accompanies each troupe. This adds to the joyous spirit of the Bali Kites Festival and the dramatic take-offs.
The Balinese traditional kites are gigantic, measuring up to four metres in width and 10 metres in length. Some other versions, such as the ‘janggan’ type have impressive flowing ribbon tails. Tails often reach 100 metres or more in length. Jointly built at the communal ‘banjar’ village halls all over Bali, skilled youths, supervised by elders, craft bamboo frameworks for weeks up to the major event. Lightweight fabrics are selected according to an agreed-upon colour scheme. Some are fitted with intricately carved heads. The final results await transport – usually by truck and requiring special escort along small Balinese roads – towards the Bali Kites Festival flying grounds on Padanggalak Beach. The ‘bebean’ type is the most common design with a traditional outline of a fish. This is the common ‘giant kite’ of Bali that dominates the skies. The ‘janggan’ somewhat resembles birds, with shorter and rounder wings. Their long flowing ‘kedeber’ ribbon tails also often outshine the kite’s body once airborne. In each competition, the task of assembling and flying the entailing ‘kedeber’ is major challenge for the piloting troupe. A troupe normally comprises a dozen or so boys and men. Categories to win include ‘best launch’, ‘best design’ and ‘longest flight’. Occasionally, the kites descend over nearby rice paddies. Team members must dash onto the fields to retrieve their painstakingly built kites.
The skies over Padanggalak are dominated by these flying giants during the Bali Kites Festival. Nevertheless, you’ll witness kite-filled skies on any given day between June and August – every year. Skies over Bali are just as elaborately decorated as any Balinese procession this windy time of the year. Some kites are even fitted with sound instruments in the form vibrating bows called ‘guwang’. These generate a resonating hum that can be heard from far. Enjoy Bali’s windy season sights and sounds! Don’t worry if you missed out on the main opening festival events in July. There are various side events and competitions to witness throughout the second half of the year. These are also highlighted annually as part of the festivity. Following is the tentative line-up of 2018 Bali kite events. Updates are announced throughout the year by the Bali Kites Association or Pelangi (Persatuan Layang-Layang Indonesia, Bali chapter).