Ready for a little hot air in your life…no, no, not more summer temperatures. It’s about time for the 37th annual Plano Balloon Festival, sponsored by InTouch Credit Union, at Plano’s Oak Point Park. Scheduled for September 23-25, more than 40 hot air balloons will sail off to touch the skies.
Launches are scheduled for Friday, 6 p.m., Saturday and Sunday at 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. All flights are weather permitting.
Some lucky folks will get to actually float in balloons that remain tethered to the ground. Only a few onboard spots are available, on a first come-first served basis. Tickets are $25, or $15 for kids 6 to 12. Even luckier folks with deeper pockets can actually flyaway in a couple balloons on flights that last 30 minutes to an hour. That price is $300 per person. Everybody has to sign a waiver. All tickets are cash only.
Tethered rides will be Friday evening, Saturday morning, and Sunday morning and evening. Flyaway rides will only be Saturday and Sunday mornings.
The RE/MAX sky diving team is scheduled to jump each day at 5:30 p.m., landing in the balloon launch area.
A huge fireworks show highlights Saturday night. Throughout the weekend there is music and entertainment on two festival stages.
After their flights Friday and Saturday night, the balloons will inflate and “glow” in the dark in the launch area. Set your cameras for night time exposures and don’t miss this photo op.
Popular features of the festival are the 5K and Family Fun Run races on Saturday morning, and the big half-marathon Sunday morning. Runners get a free breakfast after their races, t-shirts, medals, and trophies for the winners. Runners can pre-register at the festival website.
Over 100,000 people usually turn out for the festival if the weather is good. Parking is always a hassle. The parking areas at the park and Collin College Spring Creek fill up quickly. There is parking across the street at Plano Centre. See the website for exact locations and prices. There is also a free shuttle that will run to and from the DART Parker Road station.
Traffic will be congested the entire weekend of the festival. Spring Creek Parkway is closed between Jupiter and Parker roads. Plan accordingly.