Several hot air balloon festivals in Texas take place annually marking special events with a spectacular show. These festivals offer a chance to witness amazing hot air balloons up close and personal, as well as to enjoy a variety of other activities and entertainment.
My husband proposed to me in a hot air balloon so they have always held a special place in our hearts. He said he has never held onto anything tighter in his life than he did that ring in his pocket as we ascended! Kudos to the stranger who hit the shutter on the camera when he unexpectedly proposed!
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History of Hot Air Balloon Festivals in Texas
Hot air balloon festivals have been a popular attraction in Texas for many years. The first hot air balloon festival in Texas was held in 1978 in Plano, Texas. It was called the Plano Balloon Festival and attracted over 5,000 visitors.
Since then, hot air balloon festivals have become an annual tradition in many cities across Texas. These festivals typically feature hot air balloon rides, balloon races, and balloon glows. Balloon races are competitions where pilots try to fly their balloons through a set course in the fastest time possible. Balloon glows are nighttime or early morning events where balloons are inflated and lit up, creating a beautiful spectacle.
In addition to the balloon-related events, hot air balloon festivals often include live music, food vendors, and other family-friendly activities. Many festivals also include a carnival with rides and games.
Top Hot Air Balloon Festivals in Texas
Texas is home to some of the most beautiful hot air balloon festivals in the country. Here are the top five hot air balloon festivals in Texas:
Plano Balloon Festival
- Dates: September 21-24, 2023
- General Admission: $10
The Plano Balloon Festival is an annual event held in Plano, Texas. This four day event has been running for 42 years with no signs of slowing down!
The festival features 30 hot air balloons, live music, and a variety of food vendors. Visitors can also enjoy watching skydivers, and a fireworks show on Friday and Saturday evenings. Kids will love the zone set up just for them with inflatable rides (extra fee), obstacles courses, and arts and craft stations.
Whatever you do, don’t miss the hot air balloons on display glowing in the dark. This takes place early in the morning and in the evenings. In my opinion, it is the best part of the whole festival!
Great Texas Balloon Race
- Dates: June 12-18, 2023
- General Admission: $15-20
The Great Texas Balloon Race is an annual event that has earned Longview, Texas the official designation as “The Balloon Capital of Texas” by the Governor of Texas in 1985. This highly anticipated event draws thousands of visitors from all over the country to witness the amazing colored hot air balloons filling the sky.
This year, Longview will once again host the U.S. National Hot Air Balloon Championship from June 12-18, with the Great Texas Balloon Race competition overlapping from June 16-18. In addition to the breathtaking balloon flights, the event also features live music, a Championship Competition Flight, balloon glows in the late evening (my favorite!), a Special Shapes inflation show, and the Up & Away 5K race.
Visitors will want to stop by the Gregg County Historical Museum to check out the history of the Great Texas Balloon Race with fun facts and memorabilia from the past years of the festival.
Fredericksburg Hot Air Balloon Bash
- 2023 Dates: July 1 + September 2 + November 25 + December 31
- 2024 Dates: April 5, 2024
- General Admission: TBD + Farm to Table Dinner options
The Fredericksburg Hot Air Balloon Bash is a unique event that combines the elegance of polo, the sophistication of wine, and the thrill of hot air balloon rides to create an unforgettable experience. This Hill Country activity is a favorite among locals and visitors.
In addition to tethered hot air balloon rides, visitors can also take helicopter rides to get a bird’s eye view of the stunning Texas Hill Country. Live music performances add to the festive atmosphere, making this event a true celebration of fun and excitement.
Even if the balloons are unable to inflate due to unsafe conditions, visitors are still in for a treat as all balloon rides are automatically upgraded to helicopter rides. While the festival may not have hundreds of balloons, the 2-4 balloons on site provide the perfect opportunity for tethered rides and a chance to experience the magic of hot air ballooning in a unique and unforgettable way.
Balloons Over Horseshoe Bay Resort
- Dates: April 7-8, 2023
- General Admission: Starting at $30
Balloons Over Horseshoe Bay Resort is an annual event that takes place in the beautiful Texas Hill Country. This event features hot air balloons of all shapes and sizes, and visitors can enjoy balloon rides, balloon glows, and other exciting activities.
The festival takes place at the luxurious Horseshoe Bay Resort, which offers stunning views of Lake LBJ and the surrounding hills. Accommodations + Festival packages are available and include special VIP event access.
In addition to the balloon-related activities, visitors can enjoy live music, food and drink vendors, shows such a parachute demonstration and safari presentation, a kid’s zone, and more. The balloon glows are a particularly amazing sight, as the balloons light up the night sky in a display of color and light.
Tailwind Regional Balloon Festival in Canton
- Dates: July 7-8, 2023
- General Admission: $20 per car
The Canton Texas Balloon Fest is an event that should be on every traveler’s bucket list! This festival features competition flights that will leave you in awe as hot air balloons of all shapes and sizes take to the skies.
The festival also boasts delicious food from various vendors that will satisfy your appetite. When the sun sets, the amazing glow ceremony will light up the night sky. Don’t miss the 5K Glow Run and paint booth as well.
The festival also features live music that will keep you dancing, a car show, and plenty of photo ops to capture fun memories.
Skylight Balloon Fest
- Dates: Saturday 29-30, 2023
- General Admission: $12/adult + $7/child
This hot air balloon festival in Texas is an exciting event that offers a range of activities for visitors of all ages. One of the main attractions at Skylight Balloon Fest is the tethered balloon rides, which provide a unique perspective of the festival and the surrounding area.
The glow ceremonies are also a must-see, as the hot air balloons light up the night sky. For those traveling with children, the petting zoo and kids play area are great options to keep the little ones entertained. The festival also features acrobats and a skydiving show, which are sure to leave you in awe. Live music and food trucks provide a great atmosphere and delicious options and varied menus.
Kyle Pie in the Sky Hot Air Balloon Festival
- Dates: TBD 1st Saturday of September, 2023
- General Admission: Free
Kyle Pie in the Sky Hot Air Balloon Festival is a must-attend for families looking for a fun-filled weekend. The festival features tons of entertainment for all ages, including a vendor market, a kids’ play area, live music, and tethered hot air balloon rides.
The pie festivities will include a pie baking contest, pie eating contests, Pi Recital, and pie vendors offering both sweet and savory options. The celebration is also FREE! But plan to fork over a little cash for the tethered hot air balloon rides and vendor market.
This Texas hot air balloon festival is a great opportunity to enjoy the beautiful hot air balloons illuminating the sky on Friday and Saturday evenings and floating over the Kyle sky on Saturday and Sunday mornings. With so much to do and see, this festival solidifies Kyle’s claim to fame as the Pie Capital of Texas.
Paris Balloon & Music Festival
- Dates: September 8-10, 2023
- General Admission: $5 cash admission fee + extra fee for some activities
The Paris Balloon & Music Festival is a fantastic event that is perfect for families and friends alike. The festival features a spectacular Balloon Glow ceremony at dusk, where hot air balloons light up the night sky with their vibrant colors. Live bands provide the perfect soundtrack to the festival, while a live painting event and cornhole tournament offer fun and entertainment for all ages. Tethered balloon rides are also available, giving you a bird’s eye view of the festival, the surrounding area, and the infamous Eiffel Tower wearing a red cowboy hat!
Vendors and food trucks will keep you well-fed and hydrated throughout the festival, with plenty of delicious options to choose from. The Kidzone is a great place for children to play and have fun, while the sunrise balloon launch is a breathtaking sight that SHOULD NOT be missed – set your alarms for this one!
Hot Air Balloon Ride in Texas
While some hot air balloon festivals in Texas offer tethered balloon rides (which are perfect for adults and older kids to get a taste of the fun!), some visitors may want to drop the tether and take a sunrise hot air balloon ride in Texas to soak up the views.
Whether it is a special occasion or vacation activity, here are some of our favorite places to take to the skies on a Texas hot air balloon ride.