Having kids makes you do the strangest things! If you’d asked me 10 years ago if I’d ever spend my Saturday morning at a pumpkin patch 45 minutes outside of town or end my day watching hot air balloons take off, I would have said you were crazy. But when you become a parent, this intrinsic desire to see the “wonder” in your child’s eyes takes over, and you’d do just about anything to capture a smile.
. . .including spending your precious Saturday at a pumpkin patch and hot air balloon festival.
I will admit that once we’d decided to go to the Plano Balloon Festival this weekend, I started to get pretty excited about it. I’d read all about the event on Dallas Moms Blog, and loved the idea of doing something completely different!
If you haven’t been before, here’s a brief run down of the event.
Who knows? You might find yourself in my shoes next year choosing the Plano Balloon Festival over Addison’s Oktoberfest too!
The event runs Friday-Sunday. There are two daybreak launches on Saturday and Sunday mornings starting at 6:30am, and there are two evening launches on Friday and Saturday night starting at 6pm. There’s a final launch on Sunday evening at 6pm, but one of the highlights of the event is the “Balloon Glow” and this doesn’t occur Sunday night.
Although I’ve heard the morning launches are a lot less crowded, we chose the evening event so that we could watch the fireworks after the last “Glow” on Saturday night.
The festival lasts all day with inflatable rides for kids as young as 2, lots of festival food, vendors, and exhibitions. We arrived Saturday at 5pm right before the Parachute Exhibition.
When we arrived, the crowd wasn’t terrible, and we decided to park at the Collin College Spring Creek Campus ($10/car) since we had a lot to lug into the event. You are allowed to bring your own food and beverages (Warning: this is a no beer / wine / alcohol event!), so we decided to pack our own sandwiches and buy dessert from some of the vendors while we waited for each activity.
There are lots of places for families to sit. The closer you get to the balloons, the more you’ll sit on an incline. We decided to sit right near the rope that separates the crowd from the balloon field and we had to sit at a 45 degree angle the whole time. There’s a large hill with flat space (and shade), about 500-700 feet away from the field with a pretty decent view too.
The balloons began to start to inflate around 5:15pm and kept our 18 month old entertained for a good 45 minutes until they began taking off at 6pm.
Once the first set of balloons took off, a second round of balloons came in at 6:45pm. These were the character balloons and took a lot longer to inflate.
Don’t get too excited when you see these! They won’t be launching, but they make the “Balloon Glow” that much more exciting!
If you miss the first “Glow,” don’t worry! For 20 minutes, the announcer will begin the countdown again at various times letting you know that the balloons are about to “Glow” again. Sometimes they’re a constant glow and other times he calls for a “Twinkle” where the balloons will all twinkle like stars.
And if you’re like us, you’ll appreciate the multiple “Glows” because it took almost all the whole time for us to get a decent family picture!