Air travel has a whole new meaning. llluminating the Texas sky with a kaleidoscope of bold color and striking shapes, 75 hot-air balloons will take to the air during the 31st Annual Plano Balloon Festival on September 17-19.

“It’s a family-oriented, community-wide festival. It is a hot-air balloon festival, but it’s much more than that,” says the festival’s executive director, Jo Via.

The weekend-long extravaganza features five balloon launches, as well as balloon glows, a fireworks show, live music, skydivers, food and beverages, and arts-and-crafts vendors.

More than 95,000 people from across the nation gather in Plano each year to take part in the largest balloon festival in Texas. Gaze at gleaming balloons decorating the night skies, send the little ones’ imaginations sky-high at the Kids Fun Zone with inflatable rides and an obstacle course, and-for $250-soar above Plano during your very own balloon ride.

“Having 100,000 people wave at you while you’re taking off makes you feel kind of special,” says Pete Carter, owner of Airventure Balloonport Inc., the festival’s official ride vendor.

Carter says the passengers are awed by the 360-degree visibility they have in a hot-air balloon. “You can see and feel the air, and you can touch the top of the trees if you so desire and pick a leaf,” he adds. “That experience doesn’t exist in any other medium of flight.”

The Plano Balloon Festival takes place at Oak Point Park, the city’s largest park and nature preserve, just minutes away from downtown. The 800-acre park offers a variety of wildflowers and miles of trails hugging Rowlett Creek.

To learn more, visit, or call 972/867-7566.

From the September 2010 issue
The June 2024 cover of Texas Highways: Treasures from the Coast

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