A sky-high adventure is waiting for you!
Tips + A Guide to A Hot Air Balloon Festival Near You.
Soaring through the skies, guided by gentle winds, hot air balloon festivals offer an enchanting experience for the whole family. Texas isn’t the only state offering vibrant sky colors and hot air balloon festivals. Other states, including New Mexico, our neighboring state, have fantastic festivals that the entire family enjoys. I’ve been lucky enough to visit other states to experience hot air balloon rides.
Whether you’re an avid adventurer, a photography enthusiast, or seeking a unique family outing, hot air balloon festivals offer something for everyone.
The Thrill of Hot Air Balloon Festivals
Discover the best festivals in the US, & Canada, where to find them, their activities, and what makes each event a must-visit. This list contains the top balloon festivals in Texas, surrounding states, and Canada. If you’re looking for others, please google – Hot Air Balloon Festivals Near Me, and something should come up. The last festival is in Canada. I love this country and visited Quebec City a couple of years ago.
These events bring together balloon enthusiasts, adventure seekers, families, and couples for an exhilarating and awe-inspiring experience. Seeing numerous balloons taking flight simultaneously creates an atmosphere of pure magic and wonder, making these festivals a must-see for anyone with a love for exploration and adventure. Now that’s a thrill!
What to Expect at A Hot Air Balloon Festival
In addition to the balloon flights, hot air balloon festivals typically offer a range of ground-based activities and entertainment. Live music performances, food and beverage vendors, arts and crafts exhibits, and children’s activities are commonly featured. Some festivals include special events such as tethered balloon rides and night glows, where balloons are illuminated against the evening sky, creating a magical display of light and color.
Food vendors and concessions at hot air balloon festivals often showcase a tempting selection of local cuisines, catering to various tastes and preferences, from savory street foods and gourmet snacks to indulgent desserts and refreshing beverages. Many festivals also feature specialty vendors offering unique balloon-themed treats and memorabilia, adding a touch of whimsy and novelty to the culinary offerings.
Live entertainment – musical performances, stage shows, and interactive activities add to the festive ambiance. Whether it’s a lively band playing on a main stage, a cultural performance highlighting local traditions, or a captivating aerial display, the entertainment options are designed to appeal to diverse audiences and enhance the overall festival atmosphere.
For families and younger attendees, expect dedicated children’s zones and interactive areas with games, crafts, and educational activities. These areas allow younger visitors to engage in age-appropriate entertainment while immersing themselves in the festival’s magic.
Here’s A Top Hot Air Balloon Festival Near You
Top hot air balloon festivals are held in various U.S. (and Canada) locations, each offering something different, especially its scenery. From larger events to smaller, more intimate gatherings, these festivals cater to diverse spectators. Here are a few of the top hot air balloon festivals that have captured the hearts and imaginations of enthusiasts.
• HEB/Central Market Plano Balloon Festival, Plano, TX
Next festival: September 2024
Where: Oak Point Park and Nature Preserve
HEB/ Central Market Plano Balloon Festival is this city’s largest event of the year and is also the largest hot air balloon festival in Texas. The skies will cover Texas in September with beautiful, colorful hot air balloons and nighttime balloon glow for four straight days.
What to expect: Half marathon race, 5k run/walk, tethered rides, kids rides, various food options, and much more.
• The Great Texas Balloon Race – Longview, TX
Next festival: June 2024
Where: East Texas Regional Airport
The Great Texas Balloon Race is the longest-running hot-air balloon event in Texas.
What to expect: Hot air balloon rides, live music, food, beer & wine and more.
Many more hot air balloon festivals in Texas are happening throughout the year.
• Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta – New Mexico
Next festival: October 5-13, 2024
Where: Balloon Fiesta Park
The 52nd Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is the largest and most renowned hot air balloon festival in the United States. Held annually in early October, this nine-day event features hundreds of balloons taking flight against the stunning backdrop of the New Mexico desert. Visitors can witness mass ascensions, evening glow events, and various entertainment and cultural activities.
What to expect: Balloon rides. Kids’ section. Cute animal-like balloons fly in the air. No drones allowed. Parking is $20. There is so much going on here. You’ll want to visit the website to see it all.
• Taos Valley Balloon Rally – New Mexico
Next Festival: End of October 2024 (41st Festival)
Where: On Albright Street behind the Taos County Court House
The Taos Mountain Balloon Rally is a Taos community event. Every year, on the last full weekend in October, as fall brings the abundant colors of oranges, reds, ambers, and yellows, more colors join in from all the bright colored balloons in the sky. The Taos Mountain sunrise is a sight to see. I was just there in November 2023 on a press trip, and though we missed the colors, we heard about it.
• Labor Day Lift Off – Colorado Springs, Colorado
Next festival: August 30 – September 2, 2024
Where: Memorial Park, 1605 E. Pikes Peak Ave.
Colorado’s largest hot air balloon festival, the Colorado Springs Labor Day Lift Off, brings fun and excitement for the entire family throughout the Labor Day Weekend.
General admission is free. More to come closer to the event.
What to expect: 5K Race, balloon rides, VIP Lounge
• International Balloon Festival – Quebec, Canada
Next festival: August 9 – 19, 2024
Where: Quebec, Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Canada (for more than 30 years)
The International Balloon Festival is a beloved Canadian festival held annually in August and offers a perfect blend of balloon flights, live entertainment, and family-friendly activities. Set against the picturesque backdrop of the Richelieu River, the event attracts thousands of visitors who come to marvel at the colorful balloons and enjoy the festive atmosphere.
What to expect: Live music, market vendors, food, balloon flights, all kinds of games, lots to do for kids, and more.
Tips for Attending A Hot Air Balloon Festival
Plan Ahead: Many festivals feature early morning balloon launches, so arriving early can provide the best prime viewing and photography opportunities. Additionally, early arrival allows for smoother parking and entry into the festival grounds.
Dress Appropriately: These types of festivals are held outdoors, so be sure to dress for the weather. Wear comfortable shoes, dress in layers, and bring sunglasses. And, if you’re going on a balloon ride, it can get colder as you ascend up in the air.
Bring Your Best Camera: Hot air balloon festivals offer stunning photo opportunities, so bring a camera or smartphone to capture the colorful balloons against the sky. Capture balloons from ground level, experiment with aerial shots from elevated vantage points, and consider incorporating surrounding landscape elements to add depth and context to your photos.
Follow Instructions: If you can take a balloon ride, listen carefully to the instructions the pilot and crew provide. Familiarize yourself with the proper boarding and disembarking procedures, and adhere to any safety guidelines or precautions the balloon operator outlines. There is always someone willing to help you climb aboard. I should know. It’s happened twice to me.
Respect Boundaries: Hot air balloon festivals often have designated viewing areas and safety barriers in place to ensure the well-being of participants and spectators. Respect these boundaries and avoid venturing into restricted zones or obstructing the movements of balloon crews and ground support personnel.
Weather Awareness: Balloon flights are weather-dependent, and pilots closely monitor meteorological conditions to ensure safe and stable flying conditions. Be prepared for potential changes in the festival schedule or program due to inclement weather, and follow any updates or announcements festival organizers provide.
History and Significance of Hot Air Balloon Festivals
The history of hot air ballooning dates back to the late 18th century, with the first recorded human-crewed flight taking place in 1783. Since then, hot air balloons have captured the imagination of people worldwide, symbolizing the spirit of adventure and the limitless possibilities of flight. Over the years, these festivals have become an integral part of this rich aviation tradition, serving as a platform for enthusiasts to come together and celebrate the art and science of ballooning.
In addition, hot air balloon festivals also promote tourism and stimulate local economies. These events draw visitors from near and far, allowing host cities and towns to showcase their hospitality and attractions. The influx of tourists and spectators contributes to the vitality of local businesses, from hotels and restaurants to artisanal shops and recreational activities. As such, these fabulous festivals are a source of joy and inspiration and a catalyst for community engagement and economic growth.
Hot Air Balloon Festival Conclusion
As the balloons gracefully ascend into the sky, the atmosphere becomes charged with excitement and anticipation. The gentle hiss of the burners, the whoosh of hot air filling the balloons, and the crowd’s cheers create a symphony of sound that adds to the festival’s allure. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned enthusiast, the sense of wonder and magic is palpable in the air.