There are lots of things to do in Fuerteventura and lots of dates to add to your diary. One event that you dont want to miss is the annual Kite Festival, which takes places every November. This is the time when the winds pick up and the sand dunes of Corralejo and part of the beach in El Cotillo are awash with colour, as kites of all shapes and sizes take to the skies.
Festival Internacional de Cometas
The stunning photos of long sandy beaches posted on social media often trick people into thinking that Fuerteventura is a quiet, sleepy island with not much going on, but that is not the case. There are loads of things to do in Fuerteventura and no matter what month you visit, you will always find something interesting and fun going on, that all the family can enjoy. Fuerteventura Kite Festival is just one of those events and is an annual celebration, which always takes place at the beginning of November, in the north of the Island. It is a festival which began in 1987, when a few kite enthusiasts got together to take advantage of the prevailing winds that make the sand dunes so popular with kite surfers. Now it is a huge affair and people come from all over the world to participate and show off their kite flying prowess.
Since 1987, the amount of participants has grown and grown, year-on-year, and now the numbers of both kite flyers and spectators has multiplied so much that the annual kite festival event draws enthusiasts from all over the world. The kite festival really is worth seeing as the size, colour and detail in the design of the kites is amazing! Forget the old diamond shaped kites from your childhood, as these kites bear no resemblance. Instead, expect the skies to be filled with brightly coloured geometric shapes, dancing people, flying witches, swooping dragons, enormous sea monsters, cute characters and everything in between.
Things To Do In Fuerteventura – November
The festival usually takes place during the second week in November. For the last few years the dates have fallen between the 6th – 14th. The local council always produces a poster (like the one below) so that you can see exactly what the dates and locations are. However, for weeks either side of the official events, you can usually still see some kite flyers practicing on the beaches and enjoying the stronger winds. So, if your holiday dates do not fall on the same days as the main events, it is still a good idea to keep an eye out, as you may see some super stunts and really creative pieces of flying art. During the main events, workshops and competitions will also be arranged for kite enthusiasts to learn the tricks of the trade and get involved. Full details of the times and locations for each, will be published by the local council on the posters, nearer the time.
It is hard to believe that these stunningly colourful, flying objects, that are responsible for such much fun nowadays, have a dark and sinister history which dates back over 200 years. It is believed that the very first idea of a kite came from the Shandong province in China where a farmer tied a string to his hat to keep it from blowing away in the wind. This led to simple kites being constructed from silk and bamboo and used for recreational purposes. That is until General Han Hsin of the Han Dynasty realised that they could be used in warfare!
Weapons Of War
General Han Hsin and his army were right in the middle of a battle. They were attacking a high-walled city and struggling to get close to their opponents. His only option was to tunnel underneath the thick exterior walls, but he had a problem as he had no idea of how far the men would need to penetrate. This is when he had the idea of using a kite to measure the thickness of the walls. By flying the kite above, he was able to establish the thickness of the boundary and instruct the men accordingly. Within a matter of days, his troops reached the inside of the city, surprised their enemy, and were victorious. News of this victory spread across the kingdoms and kites became popular all over the East. Stories of kites being used to drop fire and other projectiles onto unsuspecting soldiers became the stuff of legends and soon kites became a military tactic, adopted by many a would-be leader.
Monks & Marco Polo
Kites soon became popular in the East and throughout history, there is evidence of them being used in most cultures for all kinds of things, including celebrations, festivals and warfare. Even Buddhist monks used them to avert the evil spirits from the skies. Stories also tell of a man who used a kite to fly up to the roof of a castle, in order to try to steal a golden statue from the top. But it wasn’t just the eastern provinces, soon they began to appear in the west too, thanks to great explorers like Marco Polo during the 13th century. By the 16th century, kites began to appear in literature and children wanted them as toys. This led to bigger and better designs and they remained a favourite toy for some years. By the 18th century though, the novelty began to wear off and kite makers needed a new outlet. Science was the answer.
Parafoils & Planes
In 1749, Alexander Wilson, a Scottish meteorologist, used a kite to measure air temperature at 3000 feet. This marked the beginning of what we now call weather forecasting. Three years later, Benjamin Franklin and his son William conducted their famous experiment, using a kite, to prove that lightning was made of electricity. The Wright brothers also used kites to understand airflow, when designing their first airplane in the late 1800’s. Over the next 70 years, patents and new designs popped up everywhere including the para foil kite, which helped to develop hang-gliders. But it didn’t stop there.
By the 1950’s, NASA begun using kites to help in spaceship recovery missions and kite design became serious business. In 1964, The American Kitefliers Association was formed and over the years its numbers grew and stunt kites, power kites and the sports that go with them such as paragliding, kite surfing and hang gliding became more and more popular. Nowadays, there are whole industries that have popped up, all thanks to that Chinese farmer in the field. And if you want to see, just how far kites have come in that time, then be on the beaches this Autumn and prepare to be amazed.
What To Do In Fuerteventura – November
Corralejo Dunes – If you do happen to find yourself in Fuerteventura during November, then why not visit the northern part of the island and enjoy the Kite Festival for yourself. The Sand Dunes are located just outside the main resort of Corralejo. Most people will drive to the beach and park along the edges of the dunes, but during the kite festival it is often hard to get a space, so grabbing a taxi or taking a hike is often the more practical choice.
El Cotillo – The other part of the festival, takes place on the beautiful, unspoiled beaches that surround a sleepy fishing village called El Cotillo. Usually, La Concha beach is the beach of choice, but just check the posters beforehand. El Cotillo is about 10-15 minutes from Corralejo, so a great way to visit it and explore the kite festival and wonder of the natural lagoons is by hiring a car.
Have you experienced the kite festival?
If so, upload your photos and tell us about your experiences, as we would love to share them with everyone.
Enjoy The Kites,