This Is the Longest-running Kite Festival in the U.S. — and It's Returning This Summer

Masses of kites take to the skies in Long Beach, Washington, every summer.

<p>Courtesy of Visit Long Beach Peninsula</p>

Courtesy of Visit Long Beach Peninsula

Every August, a woman stands in a field in Long Beach, Washington, with crushed red chili peppers in her hand and blows the red dust into the skies, to wish for fair winds. It’s a long-rooted tradition started by Kay Buesing, the former owner of Long Beach Kites, right before the Washington State International Kite Festival every year.

Not only is the weeklong festival the biggest in North America, but also the longest-running, having first taken flight in 1981. Now every third full week of August, the skies above the beach turn into a kaleidoscope of colors, filled with hundreds of kites billowing beautifully in the gentle winds. More than 150,000 gather among the most renowned names in the kite world, from top flyers to designers, builders, and manufacturers, showing off their most impressive high-flying skills.

These aren’t your ordinary quadrilateral-shaped kites. We’re talking multicolored spectacles in all sorts of creative shapes, from artistically intricate whimsical designs to familiar characters from ponies and race cars to Minions and SpongeBob Squarepants, and even gigantic dragons.

<p>Courtesy of Visit Long Beach Peninsula</p>

Courtesy of Visit Long Beach Peninsula

“You’ll marvel at the flying of historic and vintage kites, which will be an eclectic mix of kites that are at least 25 years,” Danelle Dodds wrote on the Long Beach Peninsula’s Pacific County tourism site of some of the highlights, adding that there are also Japanese fighter kites, synchronized aerial pirouette performances, and mass ascensions. “Every day of the festival is an airborne celebration that people have come to know and love."

While the kites are the star attraction, the festival also takes over the entire town, with local food vendors, a beer garden, artisan booths, and three stages of musical entertainment.

After all, Long Beach has been dubbed the kite-flying capital of the U.S. Most days year-round, kite flyers can be spotted on the sands. In fact, the city is even home to the World Kite Museum, with exhibits of some of the most spectacular specimens, including ones from World War II, which were used as defense weapons.

Other current exhibits include ones of postage stamps featuring kites, as well as kites from Southeast Asia, Afghanistan, and India. There’s even the Hall of Fame, with inductees ranging from Alexander Graham Bell for creating tetrahedral kites for human-powered flight and Benjamin Franklin for turning the kite into a scientific necessity to the Kite Flying Children of the Gaza Strip.

For more Travel & Leisure news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter!

Read the original article on Travel & Leisure.