We recently had the chance to enjoy the In-Touch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival! It was our first time, and the first time any of us had seen a hot air balloon launch. It was definitely the highlight of our weekend!
Unfortunately, some strong winds from the north threatened to blow all the pretty balloons toward downtown Dallas which would have been really dangerous, so most of them stayed grounded and once the announcement was made that no more would be launching, we left the park. I did not get to enjoy the balloon glow or the fireworks, but I was pretty tired of sitting on the ground and didn’t want to wait another two hours for it to get dark…
To keep you from having the same sad experience, here are some tips for attending the Plano Balloon Festival:
Check the Weather
This seems to go without saying for an event like this, but you’re going to need to check for more than rain or sun. You see, hot air balloons can’t launch in windy weather. And trust me, it doesn’t take much wind to ground the whole festival. In addition to wind strength, check for wind direction. You want winds blowing from the south, so the balloons are likely to head north and land around McKinney or Plano, rather than being blown south into downtown Dallas. As you can imagine, landing down there can be a little tricky.
Whether looking favorable for a balloon launch? Good for you! Now get yourself down to Plano, find a place to park, walk a mile or two, and find a place to settle in for the evening. The park is plenty big enough for everyone, but finding just the right seat may be tough.
Prepare to Wait
There is a lot of time between when the gates open and the first balloon launches to test the winds. Then more waiting for the rest of the balloons to inflate and launch. Then more time while you wait for it to get dark so you can enjoy the balloon glow, then more time till it’s dark enough for fireworks. We arrive at 6:00 PM and the fireworks didn’t start till around 9:00 PM.
Bring Chairs or a Blanket
The grass was mown nicely when we attended, but it sure would have been nice to have something to sit on. We noticed the veterans had brought along folding lawn chairs or blankets and they looked a lot more comfortable than we did.
Bring Toys for the Kids
All that waiting can be boring if you’re not feeling like fighting the crowds to enjoy the festivities of the carnival and vendors. My kids made friends pretty quickly with some other kids in our area of the park, but they wished they’d brought a Frisbee or football to toss.
Bring a Camera!
We may have only gotten to see one balloon launch, but it was so exciting and I was so glad I had a camera phone to capture it on. You’ll also have fun taking pictures of your family while they play and wait. 😉
There is so much to do and see on the festival grounds. While you are allowed to bring food and drinks, I highly encourage you to support the many non-profit organizations who bring amazingly good food and refreshments for your enjoyment. Play some games, ride some carnival rides, check out the booths and eat some cotton candy.
Have you ever been to the Plano Balloon Festival?
I would love to hear about your experience. Leave your story in the comment box below!