Thousands to enjoy 2011 Harewood Kite Festival

Kendra Grahame-Clarke watches one of the kites on display at Harewood House last year.

Kendra Grahame-Clarke watches one of the kites on display at Harewood House last year.

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THE country estate of Harewood is famous for its colony of red kites, a spectacular flesh-eater once driven to near extinction in Britain.

But its skies will soon be festooned with the other kind of kites as the annual Harewood Kite Festival attracts hundreds of exponents of the ancient Chinese art of kite-flying.

The festival takes place on Saturday and Sunday, May 21 and 22, and is one of Yorkshire’s most remarkable gatherings.

Kites of all colours, shapes and sizes will be flown. There will be inflatable kites, and kites in the forms of birds and dragons.

Expert kite fliers can make kites do extraordinary manoeuvres including complex somersaults and dives. There will also be team events.

Experts will also be on hand to give public demonstrations and lessons in kite-making.

Jim Potts, a regular contributor to the Harewood Kite Festival, said: “We are very lucky to have Kathleen and Andrew Beattie attending this year for the first time with their vast collection of giant inflatable kites, including this year, their family of ‘tigers.’”

The festival also includes a range of ground-based activities including teddy bear trails, inflatable ball in which participants run, roll and fall about, face-painting, stilt walkers.

There will be falconry displays and teddy bear parachute drops.

Harewood House, home of the Earl and Countess of Harewood, will be open during the festival for visits.

Yorkshire Water, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and the Harewood estate collaborated in the re-introduction of the Red Kite to Yorkshire in 1999. The bird had been extinct in England Wales for more than 150 years after years of persecution. A few pairs survived in Wales.

The Harewood Red Kite population is now thriving, though there are still occasional deaths of the birds from taking poisoned bait, a hangover from the days when Red Kites were wrongly seen as a threat to game birds in shooting areas.

For details visit www.harewood.org or call 0113 218 1010.

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