Each September, the City of Plano, also the official Hot Air Balloon Capital of Texas, hosts the largest balloon festival in the Lone Star State with more than 100,000 guests attending each year.
45-50 hot air balloons from around the U.S. will take to the sky September 21-23 for the 2018 InTouch Credit Union 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 Balloon Launch presented by RE/MAX on Friday, September 21 at 6:00 p.m. followed by the illuminating Balloon Glow at 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, September 22 you’ll want to rise early to be at the festival for the 7:00 a.m. Balloon Launch presented by the City of Plano, Balloon Fly-In Competition at 8:00 a.m., Balloon Activities presented by InTouch Credit Union at 6:00 p.m., and another glimmering Balloon Glow at 8:00 p.m. All balloon activities on Sunday, September 23rd are presented by the City of Plano and scheduled for 7:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. with a second round of the Balloon Fly-In Competition set for 8:00 a.m. The scheduled activities are weather permitting and subject to change as determined by Pat Cannon serving as the Balloonmeister and Competition Director.
For the third 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.
WHAT TO SEE & DO
Other activities include the RE/MAX of Texas Parachute Team Exhibition, three performances Friday by Downtown Fever, and two performances Saturday evening by Good Question Band presented by T-Mobile on the KLUV Main Stage, a Spectacular Fireworks Show presented by Bimbo Bakeries USA, local group performances on the KDFW Fox 4 Community Stage and more. The family-friendly Central Market Kids Fun Zone features inflatable rides, berry-go-round, Toddler Zone, and a free Kids Korner with make-and-take art activities. Little ones can get their face painted and explore music at the Plano Symphony Orchestra instrument area.
Tethered rides are available during regularly scheduled balloon activities! 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. Two balloons will be doing tethered rides, and both baskets can accommodate 4-6 people (depending on height and weight). Tickets are available for purchase on-site (cash only). Adults are $25 and children between 6-12 years old are $15.
There are over 40 food concessionaires and booths on-site at the InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival that offer uplifting menu items like fresh-squeezed lemonade, funnel cakes, turkey legs, kettle corn, burgers, smoothies, gelato and more. There is something for everyone!
Are you ready to take an epic adventure? Register to run the Plano Balloon Festival Half Marathon, 10K, 5K and 1K races! This year runners can earn a bonus finisher medal by completing the Sky High Challenge or Elevate Challenge and receive three medals for two races. Registered runners receive two festival tickets, race day parking, and are automatically entered for a chance to win a hot air balloon ride! General registration ends August 31, online registration for the Half Marathon and 10K closes September 22 at Noon, and all other race registration closes September 21 at Noon. There is no race day registration.
Friday, September 21 a local Emerald City band favorite, Downtown Fever will open up the festival on the KLUV Main Stage at 4:15 p.m., and keep you dancing with two additional sets at 7:00 p.m. and 8:45 p.m. Saturday, September 22 Good Question Band presented by T-Mobile will ignite the KLUV Main Stage all day with four grooving performances starting at 4:00 p.m., 7:00 p.m., 8:30 p.m., and a final set at 9:30 p.m. after the Spectacular Fireworks Show.
The festival celebration opens at 4 p.m. Friday and 6 a.m. Saturday and Sunday and will close at 7 p.m. Sunday. Daily entry is $10 per person or a Weekend Ticket is $20 per person. Admission is $5 for kids 3-12 years old and Seniors 65 and older. Children under 36 inches are admitted free. Online ticket sales begin this Fall and daily tickets will be available at the gate September 21-23, 2018. Additional questions about dogs, coolers, lawn chairs and more have been answered on the InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival website.
Parking is available at Collin College Spring Creek Campus, Oak Point Recreation Center, First United Methodist Church and Community Unitarian Universalist Church for $10 per car. Offsite parking is available at Plano Event Center for $5 per car. Park & Ride shuttles are available for $10 per car at Collin Creek Church. You can also hop on the “Balloon Flyer” from the DART Parker Road Station. Buses will run continuously during festival operating hours.
Want to book your weekend stay? See a complete list of hotels in Plano here. Take advantage of these special balloon festival hotel packages:
Courtyard Dallas Plano/Richardson
1805 East President George Bush Highway
Plano, TX 75074
Residence Inn Dallas Plano/Richardson
1705 East President George Bush Highway
Plano, TX 75074
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.
Cover photo credit: Plano Balloon Festival
Excellence photo credits: The League Lady
What To See & Do photo credits: row 1 – David Downs; row 2 – Plano Balloon Festival, Inc.; row 3 – Visit Plano
Live music photo credits: David Downs