March 22, 2016

Each April, the skies of Berck-sur-Mer explode with colour, as kites line up in choreographed displays to perform for the crowds. Pop down to see kite experts and enthusiasts from all over the world come together to display their talents. With Berck-sur-Mer just over 40 minutes in the car from Calais, the journey couldn't be easier.

As a fan of all kinds of sports, I take the family to the International Kite Festival every year, and we always have a great time. The event takes place on a soft sandy beach, so it's great for kids, and as it's free we often bring the grandparents along too!

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Crowds flock to the beach to watch the displays

The Festival

Between the 9th and 17th April, Berck-sur-Mer will play host to one of the world's most prominent kite festivals. The delightful seaside town is a great place to visit, but really comes alive when hundreds of thousands of people gather together to witness incredible displays of dexterity combined with an enthusiasm for nature. The event lasts for nine days, and you'll be joining over half a million people - an impressive turnout!

Across the festival, all kinds of kites will be taking to the skies, and judged by spectators and experts at the event. Last year, the family and I were amazed at the variety of kites that were on display, from giant flying machines, to smaller, more rapid kites, that compete against each other in the air.

 

Then and now

The International Kite Festival at Berck-sur-Mer is in its 29th year, and when you visit you'll see kites of all shapes and sizes, plus you'll have the chance to learn about the history of kite flying, and how it has spread across the world.

My family and I did a bit of research, and we found out that kite flying most likely started in China, with the first paper kite being traced back to around 549 AD. Some of the first Chinese kites were made of silk and bamboo, and hand painted with beautifully detailed patterns.

When we visited the festival, we learnt that Korean kites are usually high flying, and kites from Bali often take spiritual forms. My kids loved the small diamond-shaped kites from India, and enjoyed watching them fly and turn swiftly. It's really cool to see the contrast between old and new, and how the use of materials has changed over time to create the high-tech flying machines of today.

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Giant kites can be seen for miles hanging over the beach at Berck-sur-Mer

Things to do

Our favourite thing to do at the kite festival is to see the flying battles between experts, such as those from the US and Japan flying teams. You can check out the stalls at the festival to see kites from other parts of the world such as India, Malaysia, Korea and Bali. It's almost like taking a mini trip around the world, as there are people from several countries there to explain their kites' features, and how kites were made throughout history.

There are fantastic activities for kids, and mine particularly enjoy watching their favourite cartoon characters fly through the skies! Both you and the children can have a go at flying a kite yourself. If you've flown a kite before or are an amateur like me it doesn't matter - you can try your hand at the flight school, check out one of the hands-on workshops or pop to an exhibition to learn more about the history of kite flying.

The surrounding area of Berck-sur-Mer is a pretty seaside resort even outside of the festival, so why not extend your trip and take the family go-karting, swimming, bowling or even get lost in the nearby hedge maze, Laby'Parc du Touquet. If like me you love sports, the coastal winds of Berck-sur-Mer are an ideal place to try out kite surfing - so give it a go!

Ready to start your adventure?

We've got you covered when it comes to travel, as a trip with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle from Folkestone to Calais is just 35 minutes, and you can be in Berck-sur-Mer in under and hour from there. Get packing!

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