By Sacha Obaid
Kick off Fall with a weekend of fun at the end of September! This year’s Plano Balloon Festival is the perfect excuse to get outdoors and enjoy some active family fun at the beginning of a new season.
Start: Friday, September 23 at 4 PM
End: Sunday, September 25 at 7 PM
The sight of a cluster of colorful hot air balloons slowly rising into the sky is truly awe-inspiring, and it’s something you never forget. This year’s Plano Balloon Festival is shaping up to be a real treat. The traditional balloon launches will be accompanied by plenty of fun activities and entertainment for the whole family. Community events like this one are always great ways to spend active, enjoyable time outdoors with family and friends. And at the end of September, the weather should be cooling off a little bit! If your family is in a fitness frame of mind, there are some great running and walking races that are sure to round out this fun experience.
Unforgettable Activities for Everyone
The 2016 Plano Balloon Festival commemorates 37 years of ballooning in Plano with a fantastic 3-day event that includes 2 entertainment stages, skydivers, a spectacular Saturday night fireworks display, merchandise, all kinds of delicious food from local vendors and non-profit organizations, a range of kids’ activities, and those amazing balloons launching twice a day. For a full run-down of the weekend’s events, check out the schedule on the Plano Balloon Festival website.
Balloons will launch every day of the event:
- Friday at 6 PM
- Saturday at 7 AM and 6 PM
- Sunday at 7 AM and 6 PM
Of course, for safety reasons, ballooning is subject to the whims of the weather, and strong winds may prevent the balloons from launching. But there’s always plenty of other fun to be had!
In the evenings there is an additional event, known as the Balloon Glow. This magical sight is not to be missed. The grounded balloons are lit from within, lighting up the evening with glowing color.
Plano Balloon Festival Run/Walk Races
If you strive to be active and fit, there are several races held on the weekend of the balloon festival:
- A half-marathon
- A 5k run
- A 1k fun run
- (New!) A half-marathon relay competition designed for teams of two competitors
Check out the race FAQ on the Plano Balloon Festival website for more information about registration prices. The earlier you register, the less you’ll pay to enter. There’s no registration on race day, so be sure to complete your registration early to take part!
The 1k and 5k runs start on the morning of September 24, at 7:30 AM. An awards ceremony follows at 9:30 AM. The half-marathon and relay start at 7 AM on September 25, with an awards ceremony at 9:30 AM. Dogs and strollers are welcome on the 1k and 5k races. Children over 12 are welcome in all races, including the half-marathons, with the consent of their parents.
Everyone who finishes a race—even those who don’t place—will receive a gorgeous commemorative finisher’s medal, which features a design of hot air balloons. This makes for a great reminder of your race achievement!
Just for Kids!
There are plenty of special activities just for kids! Inflatable rides, face painting, and games are not to be missed; plus, there are free arts-and-crafts stations at the Kids Korner. Rides and paid activities cost between $1 and $4.
Fast Facts About the Plano Balloon Festival
When: September 23, 24, and 25
Where: Oak Point Park, 2801 E. Spring Creek Parkway, Plano
How to Buy Tickets
Tickets are available online at the Plano Balloon Festival website and at InTouch® Credit Union locations beginning September 1. Tickets will also be available at the admission gate on each day of the event. If you buy your tickets in advance, you’ll be able to bypass the box office on the day and go straight to the admission gate. That means less time spent waiting and more time spent having fun!
Tickets are one-time Event Tickets that grant entry on one of any of the three days of festivities. These tickets are $5 for general entry and $4 for seniors 65 and over. Kids who are 36 inches and under get in free!
There’s also an All-Day Play wristband at $20 that grants unlimited rides on inflatables in the Kids Fun Zone. The wristband is good for an entire day and can be redeemed at the Kids Fun Zone ticket booth. You can buy a wristband on the day or buy one in advance on the website or at InTouch locations.
There are two parking options:
- Prime parking is located on-site and is available for $10 per car, for 1-time entry.
- Offsite parking is available for $5 per car, for 1-time entry.
Parking for those with disabilities is available at the Prime parking lot. This is located at Collin College, 2800 E. Spring Creek Parkway.
What to Bring
Pets aren’t prohibited, but they are strongly discouraged. Balloons make high-pitched sounds as they inflate and launch, and these are often distressing for pets.
It’s definitely a good idea to dress for hot, outdoor weather. Sunscreen and hats are good to bring along too, as well as comfortable walking shoes.
The viewing area for balloon launches is grass, so bringing along a blanket or folding lawn chair is ideal to make viewing more comfortable. You’ll be able to sit back, relax, and enjoy those gorgeous balloons as they rise into the air.