Up, up, and away in your beautiful balloon. There may be no more colorful or unique festival than balloon festivals in the United States. With each balloon of unique colors and shapes, they fill the blue sky with patches of fun colors.
Attending a balloon festival may be one of the most fun things you’ll ever do. Most festivals allow visitors to roam the grounds freely. You can often get close-up ad personnel with balloon crews as they prepare their vehicle for flight.
You’ll learn how the pilot and crew got into ballooning and why they chose their colors or shapes. And do you know what goes into making a balloon fly?
Festivals are often multiple-day events, including live music, food vendors, souvenir merchants, and fun.
So, what are the best ones to attend? Why any balloon festival makes for a fun day, some attract more balloonists and fans. Here is a sampling of some of the best to visit.
Balloon Festivals in the United States
Covid-19 alert: Before attending an event, please check its website or Facebook page for requirements and restrictions.
Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta
Featuring nearly 600 balloons flying over nine days each October, the Albuquerque (NM) International Balloon Fiesta. It’s considered the world’s top balloon festival. This event attracts balloon pilots worldwide, including Germany, New Zealand, and Australia. You will find balloons of all colors and shapes launched each morning from Balloon Fiesta Park.
Each day has special launches, such as special-shape balloons – including penguins, pigs, and Star Wars characters – and international balloons. Games and challenges involving pilot skills occur during the morning. It includes landing sandbags inside targets on the ground without touching land.
A unique feature of the Albuquerque festival is the “Albuquerque Box.” It is a wind phenomenon that helps balloon pilots in the morning and allows balloons to hang over the park long before they head off following the wind flow.
However, at night, balloon glows are impressive as pilots blast their engines into the balloons, creating colorful light against the evening’s dark horizon. Once the teams get going, the glow seems to have a rhythm.
Besides the great food – giant breakfast burritos, Indian tacos, and even turkey legs – and music, including live bands and traditional mariachi groups, the Fiesta includes vendors from around the country selling souvenirs and unique wares, such as Christmas ornaments designed to resemble pets.
National Balloon Classic
With about 100 balloons flying over nine days in late July and early August, Indianola, Iowa, is home to the National Balloon Classic. Featuring some balloons that participate in the international event in New Mexico, the Iowa classic features various colors and shapes.
While it may appear as a scaled-down version of the International Fiesta, the National Balloon Classic is a great festival. Sit on lawn chairs, lay a blanket on the ground, and watch the morning launch and evening glow. When the balloons launch simultaneously, the Mass Ascension is a fantastic sight.
On certain days, the balloons ascend twice, in the morning and the evening. While at the National Balloon Classic, check out the vendors’ tables or grab a treat at one of the food stands.
Indianola is also home to the National Balloon Museum, which includes artifacts, memorabilia, and exhibits tracing ballooning history in the United States.
Red Rock Balloon Rally
For three days on the first weekend of December, Gallup, NM, is Ground Central for hot air ballooning. The second-largest balloon festival in the United States, and behind the Albuquerque fiesta, the Red Rock Balloon Rally attracts hundreds of balloon pilots and their chase crews.
Balloons launch from Red Rock Park with the Red Rock Mountains as a backdrop each morning. The Red Rock rally is a holiday season treat, filling the northwest corner of New Mexico with color and unique shapes.
Each day includes a variety of special events. It includes Native American dancers to cap the first day and a Christmas parade on Saturday. Of course, food and more entertainment abound during the festival.
Great Texas Balloon Race
For over 40 years, Longview’s east Texas community has been home to the two-day Great Texas Balloon Race each June. Located about an hour west of Shreveport, Louisiana, the balloon race attracts about 60 pilots. Differing from most balloon festivals, pilots compete daily for prizes and awards.
Adirondack Balloon Festivals
With New York’s Adirondack Mountains in the background, the Adirondack Balloon Fest attracts over 100 balloonists to Upstate New York. About 150,000 people attended the four-day event held last weekend in September.
With early morning and sunset ascensions, the skies are full of hot air balloons trailing the wind current. Bring a flashlight along for night walking following the evening balloon glows. Moreover, You’ll also want to check out the food stands during the event.
Colorado Springs Labor Day Lift Off
With Pikes Peak overlooking the area, more than 40 balloonists converge on the Rocky Mountains for the annual Colorado Springs Labor Day Lift Off. Hosted over the Labor Day weekend, balloons launch each morning, setting sail along with the famous mountain range.
Bring a lawn chair or blanket to relax and enjoy the activities, live music, and great food.
You’ll have a wonderful time with fun-filled balloon festivals around the country. Explore attractions and watch balloons launch into the morning or light up the evening with glows!
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