This weekend, the skies over Plano’s Oak Point Park will be full of candy-colored, floating marshmallows. Sort of. The 40-something hot air balloons that simultaneously launch during the 2015 InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival will make it look like Willy Wonka’s candy factory has exploded, sending all the Everlasting Gobstoppers, Rainbow Drops and Schnozberries into the sky.
This year marks the 36th anniversary of the hugely popular, family-friendly festival, and there’s plenty of fun planned for everyone. The balloons are the reason you’re there, so you’ll want to plan ahead to see them launch at 7am on Saturday and Sunday mornings and 6pm every night.
If you stick around until 8pm on Friday and Saturday evenings, you can marvel at the Balloon Glow, where all of the balloons remain tethered to the ground, pilots operate the burners and the fire illuminates the balloons against the night sky. It’s one of the best “oooh, aaah” moments of the weekend.
The spectacle doesn’t end there. On all three days of the festival at 5:30pm, the RE/MAX parachute team will jump from a plane and land on the balloon launch field. On Saturday at 11am, JEEP will try to set a Guinness Book World Record by having hundreds of JEEP models drive onto the field to form the shape of our great state. And the highlight of the festival for many is the fireworks show Saturday night at 9:15pm.
Everyone gets a kick out of the special balloon shapes, and this year you can see a pink kitty cat, a tortoise, the Old Lady and her Shoe, High Jack the pirate, Yellow Bird (who looks a lot like Tweety), Spyderpig and several other critters. But the majority of balloons will be the classic shapes whose dazzling color combinations and patterns still leave you breathless.
Want to experience what a balloon pilot experiences when leaving solid ground? Tethered balloon rides allow you to jump into the basket of a hot air balloon and hover 20-30 feet above ground. Rides are first come, first serve on Friday night, Saturday morning, Sunday morning and Sunday evening. Tickets are $25 per person and $15 for kids 6-12, and are available onsite only.
You come for the balloons, but let’s be honest, you stay for the funnel cake, burritos, barbecue, lemonade, cotton candy, Frito pie, snow cones, turkey legs and mini donuts (please note, no alcohol is served at the event). And the shopping. Last year we saw vendors selling hats, jewelry, fashion accessories, hot air balloon toys, children’s books, stuffed animals and handmade arts and crafts.
The KLUV Main Stage and the KDFW Fox 4 Community Stage will showcase live music and entertainment all throughout the weekend. The Central Market Kids Fun Zone will provide hours of fun for the smallest visitors. The kiddie carnival games and rides vary in price, but you can get an all-day play wristband for $20.
Where else in DFW can you have this much fun for a ticket price of only $5? Parking is an additional $5 or $10 per car depending on where you park, but be smart, skip the traffic and take the DART rail or bus. Transportation info can be found here.
Make sure to share your photos from the festival and use #PlanoBalloon or #PlanoBalloon2015 and the official Plano Balloon Fest may share your photos on social media.Plano Balloon Fest Website>