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Remember when social media was flooded with pictures of people on a certain rooftop drinking Instagram-worthy tea with tons of hot air balloons in the backdrop?
Well, thank goodness that I don’t have to book a flight to Europe to experience my own dose of this joy. The Plano Balloon Festival is located right here in the state of Texas! It is oodles of fun, incredibly kid-friendly, and a must do for anyone in Texas.
But before you go, there are some tips that will make your visit to the Plano Hot Air Balloon Festival way more enjoyable! So here are 11 things to know before visiting the Plano Balloon Festival.
[Be sure to also check out the full list of things to do in Plano TX!]
Plano Balloon Festival
Weather is king. While festival organizers make the very best effort to get the balloons in the air, safety is paramount. There are times when inclement weather can ground the balloons. Luckily, there are plenty of other things at the festival to keep everyone entertained.
Navigating through the traffic takes time. Whew. I’m having horrific flashbacks just typing that out. I can’t stress this enough: include plenty of time in your plans to get through area traffic and secure a parking spot. The earlier you arrive, the less traffic you will face.
Parking is an event in and of itself. Speaking of parking, purchase parking before you arrive if you can. There are different levels of parking available. VIP will get you closest to the event. In my opinion, it was worth its weight in gold when we arrived. We were literally steps from the entrance and could technically have watched a lot of the festival [including the fireworks show] from our vehicle. However, being at the front of the arrival put us at the back of departure as we were the furthest from the exit when it was time to leave. Either leave early, leave late, or pack your patience.
Outside food is allowed. Many hot air balloon festivals in Texas don’t allow food. I totally get why – they want you to try all the cool food vendors they bring in. But, since the Plano Balloon Festival does, get the best of both worlds by bringing in your own picnic and supplementing your food with a fun food truck or two. There’s something so whimsical and fun about a picnic on a grassy hill with colorful hot air balloons around you.
Try to arrive early. Not only are there special performances [like sky divers] but you’re more likely to be able to experience all the things at the Plano Balloon Festival if you arrive early. When we first arrived, about an hour from the evening start time, there were minimal crowds and minimal lines. By the time an hour had passed, the lines were literally an hour long. We missed out on many of the kid activities and the tethered rides because of this.
Put your name on the list. If you’re interested in taking a tethered ride while at the Plano Balloon Festival, put your name on the list as soon as you arrive. Otherwise, the line will get unpleasantly long and potentially limit your chances of taking that amazing ride.
Bring cash. Parking, admissions gate, and kid zones are completely cash free. We took this to assume that everyone there accepts cards. That turned out not to be true. Food and drinks in particular were cash only. There is an ATM there on-site but the line was very long so just bring some with you.
Dress comfortably. The Plano Hot Air Balloon Festival is held annually in the fall but it can still be rather warm. Wear comfortable shoes for walking and breathable clothes for the humidity. You’ll probably also end up sitting on the ground in some fashion so wear clothes that can get a little dirty.
Leave Fido at home. Sorry, pup, but this probably isn’t the best event for you. Pets aren’t officially banned but they are strongly discouraged by the event coordinators. The noise created by the balloons often causes dogs distress. Not to mention the fireworks show on the last evening.
HAVE FUN! There are other hot air balloon festivals in Texas but this is truly a unique family-friendly event. So enjoy!
Things to Bring to the Plano Hot Air Balloon Festival
There are several things to bring to the Plano Balloon Festival that can maximize your chances of a good time. Top item? An oversized picnic blanket! Not only will it “mark your territory” [so to speak] in the crowd but it will also give you space to sit, eat, and relax.