INCREDIBLE displays of kite flying by some of the world’s best flyers attracted crowds of thousands of people last weekend.

The Basingstoke Kite Festival, now in its 22nd year, drew an estimated 5,000 visitors to Down Grange Sports Complex last Saturday and Sunday.

Thunderstorms on the Saturday morning cleared to make way for wonderful sunshine for the rest of the weekend.

Festival co-ordinator Alan Cosgrove said: “It was fantastic. We had a really good crowd, especially on the Sunday, when the weather was good all day.

“Things looked pretty bad to begin with but we were very lucky in the end. It was a great turnout.”

Kite-flyers from across Europe came to Basingstoke to perform in the festival.

Mr Cosgrove said: “They are some of the best and we really appreciate them coming such a long way to take part.

“The skills on show have been absolutely fantastic. They aren’t professionals, but they are some of the best.”

The event is organised every year by Loddon Valley Kite Flyers.

Among those enjoying the spectacle last Saturday afternoon was James Gibbons, who has enjoyed attending the kite festival with his family for the last four years.

The 42-year-old, from Basingstoke, who was with his two sons, Ryan, 11, and Callum, seven, said: “It’s really impressive to see the skills of the kite-flyers – they really make the kites dance.

“As soon as we approached Down Grange and saw the kites flying overhead, the kids got really excited and there are some particularly impressive kites here today.

“There’s something really magical about watching them, especially when you see performances to music.”

On Sunday, Mayor of Basingstoke and Deane Councillor Roger Gardiner presented prizes to the winners of a kite designing competition for schoolchildren, for which a record 200 entries were received.

He was also presented with a cheque for £546, raised through a raffle, which will be put towards his chosen charities for the year.

Five-year-old Ava Meads was declared the winner of the Key Stage One kite design competition, while Tommy Reading, 10, came out on top in the Key Stage Two category.