2022 H-E-B | Central Market Plano Balloon Festival Weekend Guide

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Returning this September, the H-E-B | Central Market Plano Balloon Festival 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 90,000 guests attending each year.

Schedule of events

More than 30 hot air balloons from around the U.S. will come together September 22-25 for the 2022 H-E-B | Central Market Plano Balloon Festival & Run at Oak Point Park & Nature Preserve. That’s right! New this year, the festival is extending to FOUR days of colorful fun! The festival that began in 1980 now schedules a four-day weekend of balloon activities, starting with the Plano Symphony Orchestra family-friendly concert on Thursday at 7 p.m. on the FOX4 main stage, followed by a Balloon Glow at 7:45 p.m.

On Friday, September 23 at 4:15 p.m. the festival opens with the Party Machine band in concert on the FOX4 main stage, followed by the RE/MAX of Texas Parachute Team Exhibition at 5:30 p.m., and Balloon Activities at 6 p.m. The Party Machine band will take the stage at 7 p.m. To top off the night, a fan-favorite is the illuminating Balloon Glow at 7:45 p.m., sponsored by Dos Equis. Browse the special shape hot air balloons that include Allycorn, Axel, Zorro, and Gizmo. At 9 p.m. T-Mobile presents a spectacular fireworks show.

On Saturday, September 24 you’ll want to rise early to be on festival grounds at 8 a.m. for the Balloon Fly In Competition. Later in the day at 4 p.m., the Missing 3 Band will be performing on the FOX4 main stage followed by the RE/MAX of Texas Parachute Team Exhibition at 5:30 p.m. and Balloon Activities at 6 p.m. The Moving Colors Band will take over the FOX4 main stage at 7 p.m. followed by another glimmering Balloon Glow at 7:45 p.m. And not to be missed – another fabulous fireworks show at 9 p.m.

On Sunday, September 25, arrive early for another morning of Balloon Activities at 7 a.m., plus a Balloon Fly In Competition at 8 a.m. Come back later for the last RE/MAX of Texas Parachute Team Exhibition at 5:30 p.m., followed by Balloon Activities at 6 p.m. before the festival closes.

For the sixth 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.

Central Market Kids fun zone

Enjoy fun and interactive inflatable rides in the Central Market Kids Fun Zone. Race through obstacle courses, zip down huge slides, ride the 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 their 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 Thursday 5 p.m. – 9 p.m. | Friday 4 p.m. – 9 p.m. | Saturday 8 a.m. – 9 p.m. | Sunday 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Rides are open Thursday 5 p.m. – 9 p.m. | Friday 4 p.m. – 10 p.m. | Saturday 8 a.m. – 10 p.m. | Sunday 8 a.m. – 7 p.m.

Tethered rides

Floating high above the crowd… 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. Tickets are available for purchase on-site (cash only). Sales will be offered Thursday PM, Friday PM, Saturday AM, Saturday PM, and Sunday AM. One balloon will be doing tethered rides and can accommodate 10-12 people (depending on height and weight). Adults are $30 and children between 6-12 years old are $20. Find more information here.

Hours, Parking & ticket information


Thursday, September 22: 5 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Friday, September 23: 4 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Saturday, September 24: 6 a.m. – 9 a.m. & 4 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Sunday, September 25: 6 a.m. – 7 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.

$150 VIP ticket: a limited number of VIP Tickets are available for the Thursday evening Family Friendly Plano Symphony Orchestra VIP Concert Experience. Each $150 ticket includes VIP parking and festival admission for Thursday along with prime seating for the 7pm concert. A special wine and cheese reception will be hosted in the VIP tent beginning at 6pm, so plan to arrive early to attend the reception prior to the concert beginning at 7pm.

Plan to stop by the Visit Plano Visitor Center for a chance to win 1 of 4 Plano Balloon Festival prize packages between Sept. 1-15!


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 Plano 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 festival‘s website.

Festival Races

This year’s Plano Balloon Festival’s runs and walks will all take place on Saturday, September 24 (5K & 1K) and Sunday, September 25 (10K & half marathon). All participants in each distance will receive dazzling commemorative finisher medals. Plus, all participants in the 10K, 5K and 1K will receive a gender specific, short sleeve, dry fit style race shirt. Kids 12 and under in the 1K will receive a cape. If you are up for a challenge, participants in the Elevate and Sky High Challenges receive a bonus finisher medal.

Registration includes TWO tickets to the H-E-B | Central Market Plano Balloon Festival which you can use on any day of the festival. In addition, your race bib serves as entry to the festival with complimentary parking at Collin College on race day. Complimentary breakfast provided each day.

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. Make your hotel reservation here.

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.

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