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Kite festivals: a flight of tradition and color in the winds of August

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August in Boyaca and Cundinamarca is synonymous with kite festivals. Like every eighth month of the year, the tradition of flying kites is being observed in the highland region. Alongside the historic kite festival in Villa de Leyva (Boyaca), which is approaching half a century of history, the capital of the country has hosted its own event for 26 years. The custom of flying these airborne creations, utilizing the strong winds of this time of year, once again enthuses the citizens. The festival in Bogota took place on August 13th in El Tunal Park, while the one in Villa de Leyva (Boyaca) occurred during the second holiday weekend of August.

The August Winds and Their Enchantment

Bogota, the capital of Colombia, adorns itself with color and tradition every August when the southeast trade winds, cool and constant, usher in one of the most anticipated events of the year. During this month, the skies over Bogota fill with kites of all sizes and shapes, creating a visual spectacle that attracts both locals and tourists alike

A long-standing tradition in Villa de Leyva

For 45 years, the idyllic town of Villa de Leyva in Colombia has become the epicenter of one of the most vibrant and exciting events: the kite festival. This annual celebration, which draws thousands of national and international visitors, not only offers a stunning visual display in the skies but also pays tribute to a deeply-rooted tradition.

The history of the kite festival dates back to past generations when locals began to gather in open fields to fly colorful kites during the windy season. Over the years, this custom evolved into a cultural event that blends craftsmanship with creativity. The kites, made from colored paper and ingenious structures, represent a wide range of shapes, from animals to abstract figures.

This festival is not only a visual exhibition but also a reflection of community unity. Entire families participate, sharing knowledge and kite-making techniques. Moreover, the design and flight competitions add a touch of excitement, while the younger generation learns traditional skills from their elders.

The Origin of an Ancient Tradition

The tradition of kite-flying has its roots in the millennia-old culture of Colombia’s indigenous peoples. In the past, kites were used in religious rituals and ceremonies that celebrated the connection between Earth and sky. Over time, this practice evolved into a recreational activity that is enthusiastically celebrated every year.

The August winds, which arrive a month before the rainy season starts, create ideal conditions for kite-flying. Their constant strength and predictable direction allow kites to reach surprising altitudes and perform aerial acrobatics. Festival participants compete to see who can fly their kite highest or keep it in the air the longest.

Kite Festivals Colombia
The kite festival in Bogota, on August 13 – Credit: Twitter/Recreación y Deporte

Stories Painting the Sky

Amidst the celebration of the kite festival in Bogota, anecdotes abound that highlight the importance of this tradition in the lives of the city’s inhabitants. One of the most remembered stories is that of Don Manuel, an elderly man who has participated in the festival for over five decades. With expert hands, Don Manuel crafts his own kites, adorning them with bright colors and unique designs. Each year, attendees eagerly anticipate seeing Don Manuel’s new creation soar through the skies of Bogota.

Another endearing anecdote involves two siblings, Laura and Carlos, who have shared a passion for kites since their childhood. Although they now live in different cities, they make an effort to come together every August and participate in the festival. Their kites, one shaped like a butterfly and the other like an eagle, symbolize family unity and the spirit of perseverance.

A Colorful Future in the Colombian Skies

Kite festivals are not only a reminder of the cultural roots of the region but also an opportunity to foster creativity and interaction between generations. As the event has gained popularity over the years, it has also become more inclusive, with workshops and activities for both children and adults.

In an increasingly digitalized world, the kite festival represents a pause to look upwards, towards the skies, and connect with nature and history. Kites remain symbols of freedom and hope, lifting the dreams of those who launch them into the vast blue canvas of the sky.

The kite festivals during the month of August are much more than an event; they are a tradition that connects the past with the present and the future, painting the skies of the Colombian highlands with the colors of diversity, creativity, and cultural heritage.

Kite Festivals Colombia
The Villa de Leyva square is filled with tourists for the traditional kite festival. Credit: Luis Ospino/Colombian One

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