The largest winter kite festival in the Midwest (2025)

Color the Wind Kite Festival is the largest winter kite festival in the Midwest.   And these kites are NOT your everyday kites. They are specialized kites like sharks, whales, bears, and astronauts.  It’s a welcome kaleidoscope of colors during the often bland winter days.

When is the Color the Wind Kite Festival?

When:  Feb 15th, 2025 11 am to 4 pm. Although the event technically starts at 11 am, I have arrived as early as 9am on prior years and found that a significant number of kites were already flying.

Where is the Color the Wind Kite Festival?  

It’s located at Clear Lake, Iowa along the waterfront 

What is the cost to get in for the Color the Wind Kite Festival?  

It’s free. There is no admission charge. Parking and/or the shuttle is also free. However, you’ll want to bring some money for a warm drink, something to eat or to possibly purchase your own kite.


When I drive by the lake, I see an area of open water, is that a problem?

No, its not a problem. Clear Lake has an aerator that helps keep oxygen in the lake and that’s where the open water spot is located. The area where the kite flying takes place is a minimum of 12″ deep, which will support a small car.

Where to stay while visiting the Clear Lake Color the Wind Kite Festival:

How many people do they anticipate for the event?

In recent years, the crowd has been estimated to be around 20,000 people.

For myself, arriving early and getting a close parking spot by the lakefront was helpful to me, as I wanted to be able to come back to the car to trade out between different cameras and /or my drone and didn’t want to carry everything in one trip. However, if you don’t get a close parking spot, don’t worry, they have a shuttle service that runs between Clear Lake High School and the event –  and the shuttle is completely free, they will bring you to the downtown area and the shuttle runs continuously during the event.

YouTube video
A short video by Brian Abeling / Iowa Road Trip to show you the type of kites you’ll see at the Color the Wind Kite Festival

What to expect at the Color the Wind Kite Festival

COLD: It’s winter and of course, you’re expecting it to be cold –  but keep in mind that you’re heading out on the frozen lake out in the open wind.  You’ll want to dress in layers and protect your head, feet, and hands really well.   They also have a tent near the lakefront where you can warm up as well as purchase your own kite. 

BRIGHT: On my first trip to the kite festival, I forgot to bring my sunglasses –   a huge mistake.  Regardless of whether it’s clear or cloudly, being out on the lake surrounded by white – and your eyes will be squinting.   

BEAUTIFUL:  The colorful kite up against the surrounding snow and ice makes for a beautiful scene.   You’ll get the chance to walk around and even underneath the specialty kites and you’ll have a chance to interact with the owners.  

What should I bring to the Color the Wind Kite Festival?

BRING YOUR CAMERA. For your cell phone or extra batteries for other cameras – I would recommend keeping them in a secure pocket with a hand warmer (like these Hot Hands from Amazon) The battery in cell phones can die really quickly in extremely cold temps. I remember my first winter kite festival as I literally watched my iPhone start at 80% and drain down to nothing in a matter of minutes. I was able to solve the problem by keeping it close to my body and using a hand warmer. Also doesn’t hurt to throw a few hand warmers in your gloves/mittens.

Are you bringing kids with you? (I hope you do, kids of all ages will love this event). When bringing kids, I would recommend dressing them as if they are going sledding – meaning that you don’t just want a jacket/hat/gloves, put on the snow pants if you have them. Why snow pants? Are they planning to roll around in the snow? Yes, I actually think they will want to roll around in the snow. Not just because they are kids and it happens naturally. But also because they feature some low-flying, spiraling kites hovering just off the ground – and kids will be gathering under these kites. In fact, I bet it’s one of their favorite things they remember from the kite festival.

If you’re bringing younger kids – bring a sled that has a rope tied to it. The surface of the ice isn’t quite as smooth as you think, so a stroller isn’t ideal. Instead, put the kids in a sled and you can easily pull them along through the festival to see all the kites. As a bonus – have the lay on their back, facing up to the sky – and they will be treated to the best view as they get pulled along. Oh, and since we have the sled, bring a thermos of hot chocolate and pull it along in the sled!

Aerial view of Color the Wind Kite Festival in Clear Lake, Iowa.

At first glance, it looks like a large group. But trust me, there’s a lot of open space out on lake.

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