Panaji, Jan 13 (Agencies): Karnataka will be hosting its maiden kite festival next week at Belgaum. A wide variety of kites of every conceivable shape and size will slug it out at the fest, be it giant or minuscule, dragons or butterflies, mean machines or gentle doves.

The organisers of the event are keen to promote Belgaum, which is strategically located between historic towns related to the Vijayanagara dynasty of yore and within a stone's throw from Goa, as a centre for tourism.

"Kite flyers will fly kites at night as well, which is the first time such a thing is happening and will be the star attraction of the festival," organiser of festival and legislator Abhay Patil said on the sidelines of unveiling the festival in Goa. "We want to promote tourism, both international and domestic, in Belgaum and because Goa is such a stronghold for tourism in these parts, we wanted to unveil the festival here," Patil said.

Kite flying may seem child's play, but according to ace kite flyer V.K. Rao, the sport packs a punch and requires exceptional skill.
"One needs to develop a skill. It's not as easy as it appears," Rao said, while explaining the various techniques used in kite flying.
Nearly all professional kite flying equipment needs to be imported from abroad and comes at a dear price tag.
"This," Rao says pointing to a coil of nylon string in his hand, "costs Rs.1,000. And the kite, depending on what material it is made of, could run into tens of thousands of rupees. You wouldn't want a kite costing that much to come crashing to the ground," Rao told his bewildered audience.
The two-day festival on Jan 16 and 17 is expected to draw at least 10,000 enthusiasts, both flyers and onlookers, mainly from south Maharashtra and Goa, besides Belgaum.
The organisers hope to also attract 5,000 foreign tourists, as the venue is in close proximity to the tourist-flushed state of Goa, besides attracting teams of expert kite flyers from Western Europe.

"Fifteen national and five international teams, including those from the United Kingdom, Germany, Brazil and France, are supposed to take part in the event. Around 30 international kite-flying experts have already confirmed their participation. Some kite flyers from France and the UK shall display their dexterity by flying a number of kites simultaneously with both hands," Patil added.

"Various categories ranging from miniature kites of 3 cm wide to giant kites which could go to as many as 40 feet wide will be on display. Besides, there will be another category wherein the flyer will display his skills to control the kite and to perform stunts with it.

Dragons, trains, eagles as well as dancers are all set to battle for space both during night and day at the event.