After hitting up Oktoberfest the day before, my son and I decided to one again brave the Texas heat and head out to Oak Point Park for the 31st annual Plano Balloon Festival. Still battling our funnel cake hangovers (mine may have had more to do with Spaten beer than powdered sugar), we voted to sleep in and catch the evening launch.
After walking almost a mile to get into the festival (see below parking tip), we snagged a corndog and lemonade and posted up on our blanket until launch time. Soon after we finished eating, they gave the go ahead for everyone to go onto the field for a more up close and personal experience. And when I say “close”, I mean you could reach out and touch the balloons. (But don’t…you’ll get in trouble.)
As promised, hearing the burners ignite and seeing the vivid colors and evolving shapes of the balloons as they inflated was kind of amazing. (And definitely an ideal environment for photographers.) When it was time to leave I was pleasantly surprised at how organized the traffic situation was – a sea of people walked out with us and there were zero traffic jams.
I’m happy to say that the little one and I had a great time – we have a new tradition to enjoy together. Some things to know:
- Pay the $10 for prime parking (Collin College lot is the closest) if you don’t want a long journey into the festival entrance…especially if hot outside. (The $5 lots down the street involve a 3/4 mile walk.)
- Yes, you can ride in a balloon – for $250 a person. Tickets distributed before each launch on a first come, first served basis.
- Try to attend on Friday or Saturday night to catch the balloon glow (at dusk the pilots conduct synchronized firings of their balloon’s burners to create a glowing effect – super cool), live music and fireworks.
- You can bring your own coolers for food and drinks (no alcohol), but supporting the food booths is strongly encouraged.
Miss the action? Got ya covered. See below for pics…