The Great Reno Balloon Race: A September Tradition

Experience the Great Reno Balloon Race this September! Enjoy colorful hot air balloons, the magical Dawn Patrol, and family-friendly activities. A free event for all ages.

Every September, the skies of Reno come alive with the vibrant colors of hot air balloons during the Great Reno Balloon Race. This free event is the largest balloon race in the world, and it's a sight you won't want to miss. Let's explore what makes the Great Reno Balloon Race such a special event and why it's a must-see for families and balloon enthusiasts alike.

A Sky-High Tradition The Great Reno Balloon Race has been a beloved tradition in our community since 1982. What started as a small gathering with just 20 balloons has grown into a major event that attracts over 100 balloons and tens of thousands of spectators each year. The event takes place at Rancho San Rafael Regional Park, providing a beautiful backdrop for the colorful balloons.

The Dawn Patrol One of the most magical moments of the Great Reno Balloon Race is the Dawn Patrol. This special event takes place before sunrise, with a select group of balloon pilots lighting up their balloons against the dark sky. The sight of glowing balloons rising gently into the pre-dawn sky is truly enchanting. It’s a peaceful and awe-inspiring way to start the day.

For those who want to catch the Dawn Patrol, it’s best to arrive early. The event starts around 5:00 AM, so be prepared for an early wake-up call. Dress warmly, as the mornings can be chilly, and bring a blanket or chair to sit comfortably while you watch the balloons light up the sky.

Mass Ascension Following the Dawn Patrol is the Mass Ascension, where all participating balloons launch together at sunrise. Imagine hundreds of balloons taking off at once, filling the sky with a kaleidoscope of colors and shapes. The Mass Ascension is a breathtaking spectacle that brings joy and wonder to all who attend.

The best viewing spots are at the launch field in Rancho San Rafael Park. Find a spot early, as it can get crowded. Watching the balloons inflate and lift off is a fun experience for both kids and adults.

Special Shape Balloons One of the highlights of the Great Reno Balloon Race is the variety of special shape balloons. These balloons come in all sorts of creative designs, from animals and cartoon characters to whimsical shapes like castles and cupcakes. The special shape balloons add an extra layer of fun and excitement to the event.

Kids especially love the special shape balloons, and it’s always a delight to see their faces light up when they spot their favorite characters floating in the sky. Be sure to bring your camera to capture these unique and playful balloons.

Balloon-Themed Activities The Great Reno Balloon Race offers more than just balloon watching. There are plenty of balloon-themed activities for the whole family to enjoy. Kids can participate in the E.L. Cord Foundation Balloon Boulevard, which features a variety of fun and educational activities. They can learn about the science of ballooning, play games, and even create their own balloon art.

For those who want to learn more about hot air balloons, the race offers educational exhibits and displays. You can meet the pilots, learn about the history of ballooning, and discover how these magnificent flying machines work. It’s a great way to get a deeper understanding of the event and the skill involved in piloting a balloon.

Pilot Meet and Greet Meeting the pilots is another exciting part of the Great Reno Balloon Race. The pilots are happy to share their experiences and answer questions about ballooning. You can learn about the different types of balloons, how they are controlled, and what it’s like to fly high above the ground.

The pilot meet and greet sessions usually take place after the balloons have landed. It’s a fantastic opportunity for kids and adults alike to get up close to the balloons and talk to the people who fly them. Many pilots even allow visitors to take pictures with the balloons, making for a memorable keepsake.

Food and Entertainment No festival is complete without delicious food and entertainment, and the Great Reno Balloon Race is no exception. There are plenty of food vendors offering everything from breakfast burritos and pancakes to hot coffee and cocoa. Enjoy a tasty meal while you watch the balloons take off and drift through the sky.

In addition to the balloon events, there is live entertainment throughout the weekend. Local bands, performers, and entertainers keep the crowd entertained with music and shows. The festive atmosphere makes it a perfect place to spend the day with family and friends.

Photo Opportunities The Great Reno Balloon Race is a photographer’s dream. The vibrant colors of the balloons against the clear blue sky provide stunning photo opportunities. Whether you’re a professional photographer or just enjoy taking pictures, you’ll find plenty of beautiful scenes to capture.

For the best shots, try to arrive early and position yourself at the launch field. You can get close-up shots of the balloons inflating and lifting off, as well as wide-angle views of the sky filled with balloons. Don’t forget to take pictures of the special shape balloons and the Dawn Patrol for truly magical images.

Plan Your Visit Planning your visit to the Great Reno Balloon Race can help you make the most of this incredible event. Here are a few tips to ensure you have a great time:

  • Arrive Early: The event starts early in the morning, and arriving early will give you the best chance to find a good viewing spot. The Dawn Patrol begins around 5:00 AM, and the Mass Ascension follows at sunrise.
  • Dress Warmly: September mornings in Reno can be chilly, so dress in layers to stay warm. Bring a blanket or chair for added comfort.
  • Bring a Camera: You’ll want to capture the beauty of the balloons, so don’t forget your camera or smartphone. Extra batteries and memory cards are also a good idea.
  • Pack Snacks: While there are food vendors available, packing some snacks and drinks can be handy, especially if you’re bringing kids.
  • Check the Schedule: Visit the official Great Reno Balloon Race website for the latest schedule of events and activities. This will help you plan your day and make sure you don’t miss any highlights.

Join the Adventure The Great Reno Balloon Race is a highlight of the year for many in our community. It’s a chance to witness the beauty and wonder of hot air balloons and to share in the excitement with family and friends. Whether you’re a long-time attendee or a first-time visitor, the Great Reno Balloon Race offers a unique and unforgettable experience.

Drop a comment below and share your favorite Great Reno Balloon Race memories. Don’t forget to share this blog with your friends and family, and let’s make this year’s balloon race the best one yet!

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