Whether it’s your first time attending a hot air balloon festival or it’s been a while since your last one, it’s important to know what you should expect before arriving. While every festival is a little bit different, remember these 6 things everyone should know before attending a hot air balloon festival this season. 

1. Early Morning Arrival

Arrive early for the best views of the morning launches of dozens of balloons! Not only does early arrival help you avoid the crowds and find available parking, but the morning hours often offer some of the best views of the festival, too. Check your local hot air balloon festival schedule for mass balloon launch times. The morning mass ascensions often happen around dawn and are a beautiful sight for morning session visitors. Watch as the colorful balloons take flight as the sun awakes. 

Morning sessions may also include balloon glows, which are magical for all ages. The launch field lights up with hundreds of balloons, but weather conditions can determine if these happen the day of or not. 

An added bonus to arriving early is the opportunity to scope out which food trucks or vendors you want to patronize later in the day, and some may even purvey a hot breakfast. 

2. Book Far in Advance

Festivals get busy, so plan ahead while you can! We recommend booking your accommodations for the event weekend months in advance. While 6 months is ideal to book hot air balloon rides, try to book out 2-3 months in advance to ensure lodging, activities, rentals, and more are still options. If you’ve missed booking a hot air balloon flight – don’t fret! Aside from being an annual event (in most cases) balloon festivals usually offer plenty of onsite activities that don’t require booking, such as tethered rides.

Many festivals also offer guides for local attractions, things to do, and where to stay, so be sure to check their website if you’re unfamiliar with the local area. 

Hot air balloon mass ascension in the early morning hours at a hot air balloon festival

3. Stay for Multiple Days

With so much to do, packing it all into one day becomes less enjoyable and more of a chore. We recommend staying in the area for more than one day for all hot air balloon festivals. Staying for a few days allows you to enjoy each activity without rushing right into the next thing. You can also plan for more activities outside of the festival if there are other local attractions you want to check out. 

4. Choose Lodging Nearby

When you choose lodging close to the festival grounds, you save yourself a ton of headaches and time being close to where you’ll spend much of your time. Nearby lodging may even allow you to walk to the grounds and avoid crowded parking lots altogether. Local lodging also means you don’t have to plan for travel time each day, you can get home quickly when you’re ready to leave, and you don’t need to navigate directions to get to the grounds. 

5. Do Your Research 

Before arriving for any festival, do your research to learn more about that specific event’s activities, guidelines, restrictions, and more. Many festivals have FAQs on their website for things you should know and commonly asked questions. 

You may also want to research event happenings, including fireworks, musical acts, and on-site activities. Fireworks, for example, may deter families with young children from sitting too close to the grounds. And musicians can be loud, so plan where you’ll want to spend your time on the ground. Many festivals also include large crowds, which is something you should be aware of. 

Does your festival serve alcohol? Are kids’ activities available? What items are included in admission, and what do you have to pay for a la carte? These are things you should research before arriving. 

6. Save Some Time to Explore the Area

The festival will surely have a lot of activities and attractions to check out. Still, we recommend allowing some time in your schedule to explore the area and simply relax off festival grounds. Local restaurants, shops, parks, and more are often within a few miles of many festivals. In addition, you can check out the festival website to see if any sponsors or local partners have guides for the area, places to check out, and recommended attractions

Start Planning for Your Next Balloon Festival Now!

With the hot air balloon festival season in full swing, now is the time to plan for your next festival. For more information on what to expect and know, check out our blog with tips and facts you should know