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The Great Reno Balloon Race 2014

It’s worth the wake! Be dazzled by hundreds of colorful balloons as they rise above Reno, September 5-7! It’s the largest FREE hot-air balloon event in the world!


Glow Shows
Beginning at 5:00am on Saturday and Sunday, a handful of glowing balloons will act as a beacon to those sleepy spectators making their way to the launch field. Friday morning only is the Super Glow Show starting at 5:15 a.m. This new feature showcases 20+ balloons glowing and twinkling to music across the field.

Dawn Patrol
A trademark of The Great Reno Balloon Race worth the early rise, the show features a handful of balloons that are qualified to fly in the dark. This is a dangerous task as atmospheric conditions change drastically as the sun begins to rise. Balloonists glow, twinkle and fly along with choreographed music across a darkened sky, leaving the crowd awe struck. Saturday and Sunday only starting at 5:30 a.m.

T-6 Formation Fly Over
Each morning during the national anthem, just as the American flag is presented for Mass Ascension, spectators will be thrilled by a T-6 formation fly over. Thanks to our partnership with National Championship Air Races, visitors can experience just a brief taste of what the Air Races are all about.

Mass Ascension Launch
Starting at 6:45am on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, nearly 100 balloons will launch from Rancho San Rafael Park. The splendor of these unique and beautiful balloons thrills the crowd as they enjoy the multitude of vibrant sights and sounds in the early morning light.

Balloon Boulevard
Crafts, souvenirs, food and warm drinks await spectators at the concession line. Official posters may also be purchased here along with official Balloon Race clothing and memorabilia. We encourage you to visit and support our vendors as they are part of the reason this event continues to be free.

Check out the list of participating balloons this year – from Darth Vader, to the soccer ball, to Smokey the Bear, to chili peppers, to beagles to fish – this year’s event has it all!

What’s New at the 2013 Great Reno Balloon Race

New balloons, brew, Super Glow Show, and mobile app at this year’s Great Reno Balloon Race

Twitter photo: @renoballoonAnyone who has been to Dawn Patrol knows it’s worth the early wakeup call, as a handful of colorful balloons light up the early morning sky. This year, the Great Reno Balloon Race team is supersizing the Glow Show at Dawn Patrol for a wowing spectacle. Between 50-100 balloons are expected to participate in Friday morning’s 5:15 a.m. Glow Show – it’s even choreographed to music!

New special-shaped balloons you’ll see in this year’s race include a Spider Pig and a Hummingbird Jewel! Can you spot them in the poster?

Download the new mobile app from the App Store or Google Play for an updated event schedule, and finder for balloons, pilots and vendors.

The new Dawn Patrol Brew, celebrating the 30th anniversary of Dawn Patrol, was created by Great Basin Brewing Co.



IMG_3327Darth Vader and a fleet of “Imperial Stormtroopers” return to the 31st annual Great Reno Balloon Race, the largest free hot-air ballooning event in the world. Set for Sept. 7-9, 2012 at Rancho San Rafael Regional Park, Reno, Nev., another milestone includes the most special shaped balloons in a decade. First time balloons confirmed to date include “Shark,” “Planet Earth,” “Pondemonium” and “Strawberry Heights.” Look to the Reno skies for the return of fan favorites “Smokey Bear,” “Sushi,” “Party Panda” and “Soccer Ball.”

“How does the largest free hot-air ballooning event in the world, top itself each year? Simple. We bring in more special shape balloons and offer more,” Pete Copeland, executive director of the Great Reno Balloon Race said. “Right now our goal is to confirm our special shape balloons and determine our final number. It’s been very positive and it looks like for the first time in several years we’ll see more than 100 balloons. We’re also adding more family focused activities, new concessions and a new layout to enhance the overall festival feel and total experience for the event.”

The 86-foot tall Darth Vader balloon, which depicts the infamous black helmet from the Star Wars villain, travels from Belgium and is making its second flight at the Great Reno Balloon Race. Exclusive rides for the Darth Vader balloon and balloons during Dawn Patrol will be auctioned off on starting in July.

The “Sushi” and “Shark” balloons will be tethered this year for the Children’s Cabinet, so at-risk kids can experience team building and the joy of a hot-air balloon flight.

For information about The Great Reno Balloon Race including reserved VIP parking passes, volunteering and sponsorship contact 775-826-1181 or visit online


darth_vader5Prepare yourself for something far from expected at this year’s Great Reno Balloon Race. While walking on Rancho San Rafael’s scenic fairgrounds between the nylon walls of traditional, vibrantly colored hot air balloons, take a moment to stand back and gaze at the sprouting horizon as you might spot a balloon that stands out amongst its cheery peers.

Fans will come face to face with their favorite Sith Lord. The highly anticipated 86-foot tall Darth Vader balloon will be traveling all the way from Belgium for the 30th Anniversary of the Great Reno Balloon Race. Pilots Benoit and Michel Lambert have traveled all over the world with the balloon, making appearances in countries such as France, Thailand and Canada.

As this is Darth Vader’s first journey to the Biggest Little City, we encourage you to welcome the Dark Side of the Force by sporting your best Star Wars gear to the Balloon Races.

Other unique shapes to be seen at this year’s race include: The Bonanza Casino sponsored soccer ball, The Wilbur May Foundation’s Hopper T. Frog, and Betty Jean, a new butterfly balloon. For more information on this year’s participating balloons and sponsorship options, visit or call (775) 826-1181.

May the force be with you.

For more information go the Event Calendar at

Great Reno Balloon Race Prepares for Event Milestone

Reno BalloonThe Great Reno Balloon Race will be proudly showing its colors for the event’s 30th anniversary this Sept. 9, 10 and 11. This year’s milestone event promises lots of surprises for friends and family, but it can only happen with the support of the community through sponsorships, which are available now.

“The Balloon Race has been such a special part of the community for three decades,” said Pilar Aldecoaotalora, Board President. “This is why sponsorships are so important. We wouldn’t have the same spectacular event if it wasn’t for the support of our sponsors.”

In addition to a one-of-a-kind experience, all sponsorship levels are a great way to show client or employee appreciation, celebrate a birthday or anniversary,  promote company team-building and support this one of a kind community event. Sponsorships, which range from a $899 Family Sponsorship to the customizable Major Sponsorship, are truly the only way to fly during the event. Sponsors who sign up early will receive recognition in the Balloon Race e-newsletter and Balloon Race Web Site as an early sponsor.

Event officials are also excited to announce the addition of a new sponsorship opportunity, the One-Day Sponsorship at $399, which gives sponsors the opportunity to fly on any one day of the Balloon Race while helping make a difference for the event.

The celebration will take place at its traditional location, Rancho San Rafael Regional Park. The Balloon Race, which began with just 20 balloons in 1982, has grown to showcase more than 100 balloons and pilots from as far away as New Zealand and Switzerland. On average, 150,000 spectators from all over the world come to share in the wonder of this three-day event, which has continued as a free event for 30 years only due to generous sponsor support. For more information about sponsorships, the 2011 event or to make a donation, call the Balloon Race hotline at (775) 826-1181 or visit

Thanks to the continued support of generous sponsors, The Great Reno Balloon Race
continues as the nation’s largest free hot-air ballooning event for its 30th year.

-Rebecca Wikler

Spectator Tips for a Worry-Free Time at the Great Reno Balloon Race

BalloonsEvent organizers of The Great Reno Balloon Race, scheduled for Sept. 10 – 12at Rancho San Rafael Regional Park, have put together some helpful tips to ensure that all spectators have a wonderful weekend at the Balloon Race. Tips include important information on transportation to the event, where to park, what to wear and other dos and don’ts:

  • Admission is free, but make sure to bring money for tethered rides, souvenirs or food and drink from a variety of vendors, including a VIP breakfast catered by High Pointe Catering.
  • Dress in layers; September in northern Nevada tends to bring chilly mornings.
  • Weather information is available at or News Talk 780.
  • Arrive early on Saturday and Sunday, in time to watch the Glow Show at 5 a.m., to get VIP seating for a $5 donation, or prime blanket area for free.
  • Please leave your pets at home. The abundance of people along with strange noises and surroundings can make animals anxious and confused.
  • Smoking is always prohibited on the launch field.
  • Don’t forget your camera so you can catch every moment of this spectacular event.
  • Please remember to recycle while at the event, you’ll not only be keeping our community clean, but you’ll be helping out the NorthStar District Boy Scouts Troup #168, who will use the recycling as a fundraiser. The more you recycle the more money they’ll raise.
  • Visit the kids play area on Balloon Boulevard, the vendor area, after Mass Ascension.
  • Stay in your pajamas on Saturday, Sept. 11 for The World’s Largest Pajama Party. Come in your best (or worst) bed-head to enter in the Bed-Head Competition. Judging starts at 8 a.m. at the Pajama Party tent.

 Transportation/Parking Tips:

  • There is a limited amount of parking at the event so be sure to arrive early. There is free parking available at the University’s north lots, but all cars must be removed by 10 a.m. Parking is also available at N. Sierra St. and McCarran Blvd. or the Coleman St. parking lot for a $5 donation to the Reno South Rotary Club children’s charities. Parking is prohibited along McCarran Blvd and violators will be towed.


  • Transportation to and from the event is provided by RTC RIDE, which offers direct, nonstop service to the entrance of the park on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 11 and 12, from 4 to 10 a.m. Each of the three stops in downtown Reno, Reed High School in Sparks and the Reno Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority Convention Center on south Virginia, are serviced every 30 minutes. Round trip fares are $5 for adults and $2.50 for youth (ages 6 to 18) and seniors/disabled. For more information call (775) 348-RIDE.


  • Handicap parking is available at the Washington St. entrance to the park for those with a handicapped placard or license plate.


  • If you’d rather ride your bike to the event, you can leave it with the bike valet at the Washington St. entrance for a donation to the Reno Bike Project.

 For a full schedule of events and more information about this year’s event, please visit www.renoballoon.comor call the Great Reno Balloon Race hotline at (775) 826-1181.

 Thanks to the continued support of generous sponsors, The Great Reno Balloon Race continues as a free event for its 29th year. This year’s major sponsors include: Wells Fargo Bank, Wilbur D. May Foundation, Silver Legacy Resort Casino,  Peppermill Hotel Casino, Harrah’s Reno, City of Reno, Jack in the Box, Great Basin Internet Services, News Talk 780 KOH, Bonanza Casino, Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority. With a special thanks to our Founding Sponsors: Circus Circus, IGT, Sands Regency Casino Hotel, Muckel Anderson CPAs and the University of Nevada, Reno.

-Written by Rebecca Wikler, special to VisitRenoTahoe

Ride in a T-6 Airplane during the Great Reno Balloon Race!

BalloonThe Great Reno Balloon Race, thanks to the generosity of the National Championship Air Races, is auctioning off six exclusive airplane ride packages on eBay. The winning bidders will get to ride in T-6 airplanes during the “Missing Man” formation while the National Anthem is sung. The package will also include an official Balloon Race poster and pins.

The package is valued at more than $800 and bidding will start on eBay at $300. The “Buy it Now” bid will also be available for $1,000. Three packages will be auctioned off between Monday, Aug. 23 and Sunday, Aug. 29. Three more packages will also be available for bid starting Monday, Aug. 30 and ending Sunday, Sept. 5. Bidding will close promptly at 3 p.m. on Sunday each week. The last day to bid will be Sunday, Sept. 5. Visit the Reno Balloon Race website to be directed to the eBay auction page.

The Great Reno Balloon Race is the largest free hot-air balloon festival in the nation, and the proceeds from this auction will go directly toward the event’s operating expenses. Those who are unable to bid, but would still like to support the Balloon Race may also make donations at the event’s Web site.

-Rebecca Wikler, special to the Reno Tahoe Blog

Love is in the Air – Literally.

BalloonsMany people know exactly how their dream wedding will play out, right down to the flowers, music, weather and cake flavor. Are you among those who have fantasized about getting married in the sky?

The Great Reno Balloon Race is offering that once-in-a-lifetime experience this fall! On September 11, 2010 you can get married at The Great Reno Balloon Race! All eyes will be on you as the first bridal couple to wed at this internationally renowned hot-air balloon festival. Featured on the graceful rolling hills of Rancho San Rafael Regional Park, this dramatic event is the perfect backdrop to your dream wedding. Experience the beauty and excitement of a glorious morning wedding as a rainbow of hot-air balloons drift above your magical and romantic ceremony; this will be a spectacular wedding to remember! The Love is in the Air Wedding* will be awarded to the highest bidding couple. This exclusive destination wedding package will be provided to the lucky bride and groom by the Weddings of the West Association.

The All inclusive premier Wedding Package is valued at over $58,000+ and includes:

  • Wedding and reception for 25 guests at The Great Reno Balloon Race
  • Hot-air balloon ride directly following wedding***
  • Wedding consultant
  • Catering
  • Decorating****
  • Florists****
  • Music/musicians****
  • Tuxedos****
  • Limousine service
  • Bridal Suite & fine dining
  • Choice of two unique honeymoons
  • Hair & make-up for bride****
  • Make-up for bridal party****
  • Officiants
  • Photographers****
  • Videographer
  • Wedding Invitations and collateral
  • Wedding cake

The current bid is $9,600 and bidding closes TONIGHT at the stroke of midnight!

For more information please click here, call 775-826-1181 or email All proceeds from this wedding package go to The Great Reno Balloon Race, which is a non-profit community event.

Up, up and away: The 2009 Great Reno Balloon Race takes off

It was nearing our scheduled 7 a.m. launch time, and pilot David Wakefield was busy with last-minute details: checking rigging, test-firing the burners, tethering the balloon to the bumper of the chase vehicle. And he was doing it all with a grin stretching from ear to ear.

Such is the life of a balloon pilot during the Great Reno Balloon Race. Safety is first, but fun runs a close second. And Wakefield was obviously having fun.

“When you love something this much, it never gets old,” he said. He ran from one side of the balloon to the other, all the while trading jokes with our fellow passengers and doing the “work” of preparing for our ascent in the Harrah’s-sponsored balloon.

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

Thursday’s media day event was a scaled down version of what visitors to Reno’s Rancho San Rafael Park (map) can expect this weekend (Sept. 11-13). About two-dozen balloons were set out in the park’s green pastures, propane burners blasting hot air as the colorful nylon bloomed all around us. My first ride in a balloon offered perfect conditions, as the sun peaked over the Virginia Range to the east. It was majestic.

Our route took us in a box formation about 1,500 feet up where we mingled with other balloons and traded positions with fellow fliers. The silence is the striking thing – interrupted only by the occasional burner blast that would give us our lift. From our vantage point, we could see all of the Truckee Meadows, with the cities of Reno and Sparks laid out before us. We floated east, then south above the University of Nevada campus. With predictable wind, and luck of the draw, a draft brought us back almost directly to where we started.

With a master’s touch, Wakefield set us down about 100 feet from our original launch site. And with my first flight under my belt, I stepped out of the basket, grinning from ear to ear. This would never get old.

The Great Reno Balloon Race 2009

  • When: Sept. 11-13
  • Where: Rancho San Rafael Park, Reno
  • Cost: FREE!
  • Time: Events starting at dawn
  • On the Web:

Tips for a Memorable Experience at The Great Reno Balloon Race

grbr_600The Great Reno Balloon Race is a beloved event, which has decorated the Reno sky for 28 years. The early hours are all worth it once 100 balloons ascend into the early morning sky for a spectacular show of bright colors and fun shapes.

To make this year’s event an easy and worry free experience, follow some of these simple tips provided by the event organizers:

Stay in your pajamas on Saturday, Sept. 12 for The World’s Largest Pajama Party, sponsored by and Farmers Insurance! Hang out in the pajama party tent and get your photo taken by the Pajamarazzi. Come in your best (or worst) bed-head to enter in the Bed-Head competition. Register at

  • September mornings tend to be a little chilly and the weather can be unpredictable, so be sure to dress in layers.
  • Please leave your pets at home. Large of crowds of people, strange surroundings and weird noises may scare them and make them act out of character.
  • Smoking is prohibited on the launch field. Dry grass, propane and sparks do not mix.
  • Bring a camera with you so you can capture every moment of this incredible event.
  • Admission is free, but make sure you bring money for tethered rides, souvenirs or food and drink from a variety of vendors.
  • Parking is limited at the event so make sure to arrive early. You can also use RTC RIDE, which will have both pick-up and drop-off at three different locations: CITICENTER in Downtown Reno, Reed High School and Meadowood Mall. Also, many local hotel sponsors provide transportation, so be sure to ask when you check in.

For more information about this year’s Great Reno Balloon Race and a complete schedule of events, visit

- Provided by the Great Reno Balloon Race