High in the Texas Sky
Your guide to the big balloon festival that lights up Plano in September
For the past 42 years, thousands of spectators have been turning up to The H-E-B Central Market Plano Balloon Festival to watch hot-air balloons soar through the sky, while also enjoying live music and entertainment, kids' activities, and tons of food and drink.
If attending this four-day festival, held this year from September 21-24 at Oak Point Park/Red Rail Pavilion in Plano, is on your must-do list, here's everything you need to know before you go.
The festival launches its balloons two times over the weekend, weather permitting. The larger-than-life creations go up on Saturday and Sunday at 7 am.
Start the day watching the balloons get inflated or wind down with the Balloon Glow, when the balloons are lit from within against the evening sky.
General admission tickets are $10, senior age 65 and older and kids 3-12 years old are $5, and tots 36 inches and smaller are free.
The festival is going cashless this year, and the admission gate, parking, and Kids Fun Zone ticket booth will only accept debit, credit, and Apply Pay.
Prime parking (at three nearby locations) is $15, and off-site parking at the Plano Event Center is $10. If you don't want to stress about driving, it's a wise idea to carpool, ride-share, or take the DART.
Where to stay
There are several nearby hotels, some which might even be offering festival packages and specials. Head here to see all your options.
What to eat
There will be more than a wide variety of food and beverage vendors on-site offering uplifting menu items like fresh-squeezed lemonade, funnel cakes, turkey legs, kettle corn, burgers, smoothies, gelato, and more. You can even purchase beer, hard seltzer, and wine spritzers this year.
Venture outside the park, and you can sample Plano's ever-growing culinary scene. From downtown to the Shops at Legacy, the Shops at Willow Bend to Legacy West, you'll find hundreds of tasty options for every palate.
For the kids
The Kids Fun Zone will have obstacle courses, huge slides, a pirate ship to scale, and the "berry-go-round" to ride, along with a crafts area, face painting, and the Plano Symphony Orchestra Instrument Area.
There's even a toddler zone designed with the littles in mind. Rides vary in price from $2.50-$5, and all-day wristbands are available for $20.
How to ride
Fancy going up in the air yourself? Book a tethered balloon ride and hover 20-30 feet above the ground for several minutes.
Approximately 10-12 people can go up at one time (depending on weight and at the pilot's discretion) and tickets are available onsite in cash only. Adults cost $30 per ride, kids 6-12 only $20. No one under the age of six is allowed to ride.
What else to do
Of course the balloons are the main attraction, but there's a lot on the docket besides watching this kaleidoscope of color soar through the sky.
The RE/MAX of Texas parachute team will land right in the middle of the launch field on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 6 pm, followed by a spectacular fireworks show those evenings. Live music and local performances will take place all weekend.
Click here to plan your trip.