Hanging with giants: Arizona Balloon Classic

arizona hot air balloon classic festival

A couple of weeks ago my bucket list got a major checkmark - we attended the The Arizona Balloon Classic and it was by far one of the coolest things I've done in town!

For christmas I bought us these festival tickets not really knowing much about it. There isn't enough information on their website, but for the super discounted price I found on Groupon, I was willing to take the chance. I would've loved to have purchased an actual hot air balloon ride, except four-month-olds seem to do better on dry land.

Arizona sunsets are not too shabby.

The main event was at 6:30pm, so we aimed to arrive at 4:30pm to also see the balloons in daylight. Except it was much more popular than we expected and it took us an hour to park! I was bummed because we were losing daylight, but I was able to snap some great photos from the car (like the ones above and below).

Yup, still waiting to park.

The atmosphere was really fun and family-friendly. There were tons of people setting up blankets and chairs, there were food and souvenir stands straight out of a county fair (my delicacy of choice was a fudge-covered cheesecake slice from heaven) and music to keep everyone moving, since it was a rather chilly night in Arizona!

Ah, finally on foot!

As the sun went down, all the balloons were fully standing, and at the command of the MC they orchestrated a fire light display against the dark sky. The lights and bright colors were beautiful and everyone cheered in excitement!

From the left: Wicked Witch of the West, Cactus, POW-MIA, Lucky Cat, 60s Fun, Canadian Apple

Once the light show was over, we were invited to check out the balloons up close. For more technical information on how the heck it all works, (which goes mostly over my head) click here. We learned that some balloonists, or pilots, travel all over the world from festival to festival, and some even build their own balloons. What a great and unique lifestyle, don't you think?

One of my favorite pictures

Balloon parts terminology: Envelope, basket, burner.

The balloon rides only took place during the day for safety reasons, so while we were there, they never took flight. The next best thing was a tethered ride, which cost $20/adult and $15/child (ages 5-12). Not bad huh? Except the line was as long as the parking one. 

Baby sound asleep in the Ergo as dad watches on.

We had a great time, ate fair food, watched fireworks, and our little one slept cozily through most of it, thanks to our trusty Ergo's sleepy dust.  We enjoyed it so much that we'll try to make it to the granddaddy of all balloon festivals, the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta in the fall! 

Click here to find balloon events all over the world, and share your hot air balloon experiences in the comment section!

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About the Writer

I'm Louise, a Tampa Bay based Brazilian-American travel blogger. Join us as we learn and share the ins-and-outs of traveling with a toddler and our sweet rescue pup Oreo, while promoting local nonprofits and wellness along the way.