Sunday, the 13-year-old Venice Kite Festival officially becomes the Santa Monica Pier Festival, taking advantage of a broader beach and better parking and good viewing from the pier itself. As always, this is a free, non-competitive kite fly. Founder Gloria Lugo, who owns Let's Fly a Kite kite shop in Marina del Rey, insists on a day of no rules, no fees, no judging.
But that doesn't mean that kite flyers are not out to impress. Starting at noon, the skies will be filled--for great family viewing, or participation--with dragons, centipedes, stars and crystals. Several kite manufacturers are sending teams to perform precision formation-flying demonstrations. This isn't meant to be intimidating, said Lugo, who remembers the days when getting kites to fly was a strenuous operation. "Today's kites, even inexpensive ones, are aerodynamically perfect. You don't need to run with them, they just go up, especially on the beach."
Families are encouraged to plan a full afternoon on the beach; bring along a picnic basket. To reach the best parking--for those carrying armloads of food, blankets and kites--take Pico Boulevard west from Lincoln Boulevard, north on Appian Way, which goes under the pier to a parking lot at beach level. There is parking on the pier, and a flight of stairs to the beach. The kite flying goes on till dark, or until the last flyer quits.