The 88th annual Zilker Kite Festival (also known as ABC Kite Fest) is almost upon us! Mark your calendar for Sunday, March 5, 2017! Cross your fingers for clear skies, because the current forecast shows a 50% chance of rain that day. Don’t worry, there is a rain date set for Sunday, March 12, in the event that the 5th gets rained out. Update: Due to inclement weather, ABC Kite Fest has been rescheduled for Sunday, March 12, 2017.
An Austin favorite, the Kite Fest is the oldest event of its kind in the country. Ask almost any Austinite and they’ll tell you the Kite Fest is a wonderful way to get outside and welcome spring! Just know ahead of time that crowds will be very much a part of the picture; this is an extremely popular event, so it’s wise to expect traffic delays and a very crowded park.
Never been to the Zilker Kite Festival before? Here’s what you need to know.
Kite Fest time, date, and location
The Kite Fest will be held this year on Sunday, March 5, at Zilker Park, just east of MoPac in the fields known as the Great Lawn that are located between Barton Springs Rd. (to the south) and Lady Bird Lake (to the north). Update: Due to inclement weather, ABC Kite Fest has been rescheduled for Sunday, March 12, 2017.
Booths open at 10 AM, kite contest registration starts at 11 AM, and the contest events start at 1 PM. The festival closes at 5 PM.
Do you need a ticket to attend the Kite Fest?
Short answer—no! Admission to the Kite Fest is free, and anyone is welcome to attend.
You can, however, purchase tickets to participate in the first-ever Anteater Fun Run, a 2.1-mile run that begins at the Zilker Tree (AKA the Moontower) and ends inside the Kite Fest. Finishers will get to enjoy post-race food and beverages along with all the fun and festivities the Kite Fest has to offer. Strollers are permitted, kids 12 and younger run free, and registration for runners 13 and up is $25. More info here.
Tickets are also available to the 3rd annual Kite Fest VIP Breakfast sponsored by Gourdough’s. Your $80 ticket purchase will benefit Communities in Schools of Central Texas and the Moss Pieratt Foundation, and will get you VIP parking within Zilker Park as well as a delicious breakfast catered by Gourdough’s, a swag bag and more. Note that your ticket purchase is considered a tax-deductible donation; there will be no refunds.
What to bring with you—and what to leave at home
Here’s a handy list of things you might want to bring with you to the Kite Fest:
- Your kite (though you don’t have to bring one to attend! You can purchase one or make one at the event, or just enjoy everyone else’s without having to wrangle your own. You can also check out the official Kite Fest instructions for making your own Mr. Happy Kite!)
- Portable chairs or a blanket to sit on
- Snacks, water bottles, etc. (Note that large coolers are prohibited on the shuttles, so stick to a small cooler or bag.)
- Sun protection (hat, sunscreen, sunglasses)
- Cash for shuttle rides and any concessions you might want to purchase at the festival
- Extra comforts for your children or dogs, if you’re bringing any (e.g., dog waste bags, a water bowl, toys or a blankie for kids, etc.)
Here’s what not to bring (the following are either prohibited at the park/event, or just aren’t a good idea):
- Impractical shoes (closed-toe, comfortable shoes made for walking longer distances are best!)
- Glass or Styrofoam containers (prohibited in Zilker Park)
- The type of kite string that can sever other kite strings
- BBQ grills, cigarettes or other fire-related items (there are smoking and burn bans in place for all of Austin’s parks)
Kite contest information
Anyone who wants to compete in the kite contest can participate for free. Register between 11 AM and 2 PM on the day of the event at the tables next to the sound booth. The contest begins at 1 PM, and awards will be given out for Highest Angle Kite, Smallest Kite, Most Unusual Kite and more. Find out about contest rules and more here.
Parking and transportation information
Update: Due to the possibility of rain, there will be no on-site parking at Zilker Park. Read more here.
Barton Springs Road will be closed from 7 AM to 7 PM on Sunday 3/5 for the festival, and there is limited parking in Zilker Park, so driving your own vehicle to the festival can be tricky. If you have to drive, shuttles are a great option; you can park for free downtown (at the State lots at 1604 Colorado St.) or down south at the Tony Burger Center and catch a shuttle from there to the festival. Shuttle rides to and from those parking lots run regularly all day and cost $5 for people 12 years and up (kids under 12 and dogs ride free).
Special needs parking is available for free at the park (on the south side of Barton Springs Road, directly across the street from the festival) for anyone with an appropriate parking designation. Use the park entrance on the MoPac side and ask the police stationed there to let you in.
And as always, Capital Metro is a great choice for getting to the Kite Fest; check maps and schedules here. Capital Metro will also be running two FREE Transit Adventure shuttles. Register for the North route here. Register for the South route here.
What if it rains?
The scheduled rain date for the event is Sunday, March 12—same place, same time, same schedule. If weather on the 5th is rainy or otherwise iffy, call the Kite Fest hotline at 512-448-KITE (5483) for an update, or follow the event on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. The decision will be posted by 9 AM Kite Day morning. Update: Due to inclement weather, ABC Kite Fest has been rescheduled for Sunday, March 12, 2017.