U.S. Bank Great BalloonFest to take flight | Events
LOUISVILLE, KY - The Kentucky Derby Festival’s U.S. Bank Great BalloonFest, with five hot-air balloon events, lifts off this Thursday, April 25, and runs through Saturday, April 27. New this year, the balloon crews will compete in the first-ever U.S. Bank Great Balloon Crew Challenge at 5 p.m. on Thursday at Kroger’s Fest-a-Ville.
For the crew challenge, over a dozen balloon teams will compete for bragging rights and a traveling trophy. The competition includes packing a balloon, after it’s been inflated; and tossing a bag of bluegrass seed closest at a target. The team who packs the balloon the fastest and throws closest to the target wins the challenge. Later that night, 18 balloons will participate in the U.S. Bank Great Balloon Glimmer on the North and South Great Lawns at 8:30 p.m. The Glimmer will be preceded by live music at 7 p.m. from Salsa All Stars and Appalatin.
BalloonFest resumes the following morning (Friday, April 26) with the U.S. Bank Great Balloon Rush-Hour Race at 7 a.m. at Bowman Field. The Rush-Hour race will offer a beautiful view to those fighting traffic on their way to work. The U.S. Bank Great Balloon Glow returns to the Kentucky Exposition Center at 9 p.m. on Friday night. Glow spectators are encouraged to come out early (gates open at 6 p.m.) and make an evening out of it. At 9 p.m., the balloon pilots will fire their burners, making the balloons glow against the night sky synchronized to a musical score provided by New Country Q103.1. The event will also be broadcast live on MeTV Louisville 32.2 and Insight Cable 188.
The BalloonFest wraps up on Saturday, April 27, with the U.S. Bank Great Balloon Race at 7 a.m. at Bowman Field. A field of 27 balloons will take flight from Bowman Field in the oldest portion of the balloon events, the U.S. Bank Great Balloon Race.
Since the first Great Balloon Race was held in 1973, the Derby Festival’s balloon events have been considered among the best in the country by pilots from all around the world. BalloonFest attractions are annually among the most popular family-friendly events on the Derby Festival schedule. There are four flight opportunities to get both races off the ground – Friday morning, Saturday morning and afternoon, and Sunday morning. If the event is not held by Sunday morning, it is considered cancelled. In the event’s 41-year history, this has occurred six times.
The Kentucky Derby Festival Great BalloonFest is sponsored by U.S. Bank. Easy Rock 105.1 is media partner of the Rush Hour Race and Great Balloon Race. New Country Q103.1 is media partner of the Great Balloon Glow. MeTV Louisville 32.2 is the TV broadcast partner for the Glow.
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