There is a song that plays in my head when I think of this event and it is called, “Up, Up and Away.” It starts like this, “Would you like to ride in my beautiful balloon? Would you like to glide in my beautiful balloon? We could float among the stars together, you and I…” I am sure you have all heard it; it was popularized by the Fifth Dimension.
The Great Reno Balloon Race was founded in 1982 and draws an average of 125,000 spectators over its three day run every year in September. When the event began 35 years ago, it started with only 20 balloons in the sky and now boasts of launching up to 100 balloons each year. The event also holds the distinction of being the largest free hot-air ballooning event in the world!
The hot air balloons soar high above Reno’s skyline at
Rancho San Rafael Regional Park in Reno, Nevada. The balloons aren’t just your ordinary hot air balloons with little weaved baskets under them. This event takes it up several notches by showcasing specialized balloons. Some notable balloons: Yellow Bird, Speed Runner, Tweety Bird, Pepe, Purple People Eater, Darth Vader, Master Yoda, Smokey Bear, Sushi, Gus T. Guppy and Wells Fargo’s Cent’re Stage.
There are various food vendors located throughout the park area serving hot breakfast items like pancakes and bagels, and hot beverage items such as hot chocolate and coffee. For those of you who are ready for a little spirits in the morning, there are even some cocktails for sale.
Although the colorful balloons provide a rainbow spectacle in the sky, there is actually a balloon competition that does occur. The pilots at the Great Reno Balloon Race use elevation and wind currents to control the direction of their balloons as they travel high into the sky. The race to the top, which does require quite a bit of skill in navigating the large balloon, is to win a piece of the $11,000 prize.
Each morning of the event, which runs from September 8 through September 10, the fabulous Super Glow Show occurs. It is only on the first day when more than 40 hot air balloons are featured glowing to music across the field. On the other days of the event, only 8 balloons are featured. Be sure to watch the entire video above. It is so cool to see this show!
Tomorrow is the last day of this fabulous event. Here is the schedule for the day:
Sunday, September 10
3:30 a.m. Gates open to Rancho San Rafael Park
5 a.m. Glow Show features eight balloons
5:30 a.m. Dawn Patrol
6 – 8 a.m. Girl Scouts’ Scavenger Hunt
7 a.m. Mass Ascension of balloons 10 a.m. End of Competition
This event happens annually in September after Labor Day. It is definitely something you want to add to your list of “things to see” when you are visit Nevada!
Below is a gallery of photos. Click on the image to see more!
Below is a video of a balloon being fired up for flight. Videos and some photos courtesy of Jean Santos. Thanks, Jean!