The Oregon Coast is known for its sometimes blustery afternoons, but this element is also what makes the Kite Festival in Lincoln City so amazing. It has been a summer tradition for my son and I to venture out on a Saturday morning, lunch packed and crossing fingers that the sun is warm and the wind is mighty so we may see the colorful display of giant kites. Some years have been spectacular, some years the air is tame and only a few of the mighty take flight. We have seen huge squids, whales, tigers and rainbow after rainbow of spirals spinning across the sky. Kites dance and sway to music, sometimes clearing the ground by just inches. I am always in awe at not just the grand size of many of these kites, but the skill and dedication it takes to display them.
We live in Salem, so leaving by 10:00 am is best to sneak in before the rest of the traffic slowly thickens on Highway 101. I pack a cooler of PB&J sandwiches, waters and other lifesaving snacks. I grab sunscreen, blankets, a backpack and my usual camera gear. In years past I had no problem finding parking just past D River, the focal point of the festival. There are several side streets and some lots will charge for a small donation. This year I noticed many more “no parking” signs, and we had to go north a few blocks instead. I did see a shuttle sign for the park across the street – worth noting for next year.
Spectators usually claim valuable viewing real estate early on, but the beach is vast and there is plenty of room for all. There are a few food vendors; hot dogs and Mo’s famous chowder are some of the selections. An information booth will offer the itinerary for the day’s events (most are weather permitting). There are also several activities for kids such as kite-making and coloring, and you can pick up a passport to have the kite fliers’ autographs. Once it is filled out you return it to the kiosk for a prize! Across the street are several places to purchase beverages and food, kites and other necessities forgotten in the car. There are plenty of options for lodging, but reservations are required well in advance. There are bathroom facilities, but expect long lines at times as there are only a few additional portables.
The day we chose this year the wind was not in our favor, a few colorful ring type kites made it up briefly, and we did watch the running of the bols, where young adults are strapped into parachute-type kites and race in the sand. It is MUCH harder than it sounds, and pretty entertaining. We also really enjoyed the giant bubble maker — at least there was enough wind for that! We played in the sand and surf, and lazily watched a few kites that did make it off the ground. I heard that Sunday ended up making a better day for flying, but we still enjoyed ourselves.
While this summer’s festival has passed, there is a Lincoln City Fall Kite Festival in October. I am often surprised by how fantastic the weather can be in October, so this year we will make it a point to come back. Many of the same activities are offered at this one as well.