2021 H-E-B | Central Market Plano Balloon Festival Weekend Guide

Plano Balloon Festival promotional graphic

Updated: 08/17/21 1:45 p.m.

A message from the Plano Balloon Festival organizers:

The Plano Balloon Festival, Inc. has made the difficult decision to cancel the 2021 H-E-B Central Market Plano Balloon Festival that was scheduled for September 17 – 19. With the continued increase in COVID cases, specifically the Delta Variant, the Festival board and staff has considered the health and safety of our Festival pilots, attendees, volunteers, sponsors, and vendors our top priority. In making this difficult decision we are mindful of the extremely large number of families that attend the event, the majority of which have children under 12 years of age. Providing a safe environment for everyone that visits the event is crucial, especially for our youngest attendees. Safety has been at the forefront of our Festival from the very beginning and that will not change. This was not an easy decision, but the right one to make. We deeply appreciate the support of our partners, sponsors, and the community; and look forward to the best festival ever in 2022.

Returning this September, the H-E-B | Central Market Plano Balloon Festival & Run will once again fill the field of Plano’s largest nature preserve. Join the Plano community, also known as the official Hot Air Balloon Capital of Texas, as we host the largest balloon festival in the Lone Star State with more than 100,000 guests attending each year.

Schedule of events

More than 50 hot air balloons from around the U.S. will come together September 17-19 for the 2021 H-E-B | Central Market Plano Balloon Festival at Oak Point Park & Nature Preserve. The festival that began in 1980 now schedules a three-day weekend of balloon activities, starting with the Party Machine band in concert on the Fox4 Main Stage on Friday, September 17 at 4:15 p.m. and the RE/MAX of Texas Parachute Team Exhibition at 5:30 p.m. followed by a Balloon Static Tether Display also presented by RE/MAX of Texas at 6 p.m. where attendees have the opportunity to immerse themselves in a balloon experience. Balloons will inflate on the field and attendees will be able to interact with the balloon pilots, capture amazing photos, and learn about the sport of hot air ballooning. The Party Machine band will take the stage at 7 p.m. To end the night, a fan-favorite is the illuminating Balloon Glow at 8 p.m. Browse the special shape hot air balloons that includes Bimbo Bear, Peg Leg Pete, High Kitty, and more!

Saturday, September 18 you’ll want to rise early to be on festival grounds at 7 a.m. for the Balloon Static Tether Display presented by the City of Plano. Later in the day at 4 p.m., the Missing 3 Band will be performing on the Main Stage followed by the RE/MAX of Texas Parachute Team Exhibition and a Balloon Static Tether Display presented by H-E-B | Central Market at 6 p.m. The Moving Colors Band will take over the Main Stage at 7 p.m. followed by another glimmering Balloon Glow at 8 p.m. And not to be missed – a fabulous fireworks show at 9 p.m.

On Sunday, September 19 get those running shoes laced up for a 10K, 5K and 1K run/walk at 7 a.m., 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. respectfully. There is also one last Balloon Static Tether Display at 7 a.m. presented by the City of Plano.

For the fourth year, we are excited to showcase Plano’s new 2016 Cameron XL-70 racer hot air balloon named “Excellence” flown by local pilot Bill Broker. Learn more about “Excellence” here.

Kids fun zone

Enjoy fun and interactive inflatable rides in the Kids Fun Zone! Race through obstacle courses, zip down huge slides, ride a pirate ship or the berry-go-round. Be sure to check out the “Toddler Zone” too. Designed with young toddlers in mind, they can experience the fun of inflatables that are just their size. Children can enjoy the creative make and take art activities in our FREE Kids Korner as they make their way through the different craft stations. Get your Face Painted and explore music at the Plano Symphony Orchestra Instrument Area.

Rides vary in price from $2.50 – $5. All day play wristbands are available for $20. Individual ride tickets are available for $2.50 each.

Ticket booths are open Friday 4 p.m. – 9 p.m. | Saturday 7 a.m. – 9 p.m. | Sunday 7 a.m. – 11 a.m.
Rides are open Friday 4 p.m. – 9 p.m. | Saturday 7 a.m. – 9 p.m. | Sunday 7 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Tethered rides

Tethered rides will be available again this year. A tethered ride is when the balloon lifts off the ground, hovers 20-30 feet above the ground for several minutes, but does not launch and fly away. Rides will be offered on-site at the festival, weather permitting, on a first come first serve basis and at the individual pilot’s discretion. Tethered rides are only available when the hot air balloons are scheduled to be on the field. Tickets are available for purchase on-site (cash only). Adults are $25 and children between 6-12 years old are $15.

Hours, Parking & ticket information


Friday, September 17: 4 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Saturday, September 18: 6 a.m. – 8 a.m. & 4 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Sunday, September 19: 6 a.m. – 12 p.m.


Daily entry is $10 per person. Admission is $5 for kids 3-12 years old and seniors 65 and over. Children under 36 inches are admitted free. Tickets will be available for purchase online soon. Stay tuned!

Plan to stop by the Visit Plano Visitor Center for a chance to win 1 of 4 of our Up, Up & Away Plano Balloon Festival prize packages between August 23-Sept. 17!


Prime Parking is $15 per car for one-time entry and Offsite Parking is $10 per car for one-time entry. Prime Parking is available at Collin College Spring Creek Campus, Oak Point Recreation Center, and First United Methodist Church. Offsite parking is available at Plano Event Center.

 Additional questions about dogs, coolers, lawn chairs and more have been answered on the InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival website.

Festival runs

This year’s Plano Balloon Festival’s runs and walks will all take place on Sunday, September 19 and feature distances of a 10K, 5K, 1K and Elevate Challenge (10K & 5K)! All participants in each distance will receive dazzling commemorative finisher medals! Plus all participants in the 10K and/or 5K and adults over the age of 12 in the 1K will receive a gender specific, short sleeve, dry fit style race shirt. Kids 12 and under in the 1K will receive a cape! For those of you who are more daring, check out the Elevate Challenge which features both the 10K and 5K on Sunday. Participants in the challenge receive a bonus finisher medal. Race participants also receive free admission to the festival on race day morning, as well as complimentary parking. In addition, each participant will receive one additional admission to the festival that is good for race day morning only. For more information about the festival runs and to register, click here.


For a list of hotels in Plano, click here to browse the list and filter amenities that fit your needs.

The Plano Balloon Festival, Inc. is a non-profit that impacts other charitable organizations within the community. And, it is able to operate thanks to more than 3,000 volunteers who sign-up to work shifts at the gates, in the parking lots, and people can even help pilots as part of their crews that inflate and launch the hot air balloons.

Share This
Phone Image

let's stay in touch!

Subscribe to our quarterly newsletter.