Beijing residents used to having their skies filled with air pollution, flying catkins, and sandstorms can look up to something new with this week's 4th annual Beijing International Kite Festival, held at the city's west end Yuanbo Park until Saturday (April 22).
The festival features some 500 participants from across the mainland as well as 24 from countries such as the United States and Russia as well as contingents from Taiwan and Hong Kong.
The invitational tournament will involve the four types of traditional Chinese kite styles: dragon, soft and hard wing, as well as board.
Kites have a long and storied history in China. Thought to have been invented during the Warring States period (around 5th century BC), kites were originally used for military purposes. Generals would use kites to gauge distances, measure wind speed, and serve as a form of communication.
In the 13th century, Marco Polo said he witnessed a full-grown person being carried aloft by a kite as part of a sea-faring ritual.
Kites lost their military application after their use spread throughout the world, but they are still imbued with much cultural significance in China. While dragons are a common recurring theme, bats and goldfish are also often seen on Chinese kite designs because of their symbolism for joy and fortune.
How to get to Yuanbo Park 园博园
Take Beijing Metro Line 1 west to Bajiao Amusement Park Station, then take bus #574 to Ditie Yuanboyuan Station (地铁园博园站), and then take bus #994 and get off at Yuanboyuan #3 Gate.
Conversely, you can also take bus #385 from Bajiao Amusement Park Station to access the park from the west side
by getting off at Stadium South Road east exit.
More stories from this author here.