Festival Of Balloons – Best USA Festivals

Tigard

Cook Park, 17005 SW 92nd Avenue

Late June

www.tigardballoon.org

For a weekend each June, a blue summer sky brims with colorful hot-air balloons in morning’s limpid air, painting a serene and indelible panorama over Oregon’s verdant Willamette Valley—this is the Festival of Balloons in Tigard. Balloon pilots from throughout the region converge on expansive Cook Park, on the banks of the Tualatin River, to put on a kaleidoscopic aerial show that can be seen for miles. But the up-close view is by far the best, and attendees soon discover that the Festival of Balloons offers much more than the flame-powered aircraft.

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The balloons launch early in the morning while the air is calm—from 5:45 to 6:15—Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Get to the park early to witness this colorful spectacle and mingle over coffee with balloon aficionados and fellow attendees. The festival doesn’t offer balloon rides, but you can connect with pilots who offer such commercial services, and even sign up for an early-morning tethered ride on a first-come, first-served basis.

As balloons dot the skies over Tigard, the festival’s many other activities kick off, including an extensive vendor section featuring local and regional artisans and craftspeople along with commercial exhibitors, as well as the Funtastic carnival fun center brimming with entertainment for all ages.

The festival main stage offers entertainment for kids during the afternoons and live music in the evenings. Food vendors offer numerous choices, and the walk-around beer gardens allow adults to buy a pint or two and peruse the vendors rows while imbibing. On Friday and Saturday evenings, perhaps the festival’s single most popular event unfolds: a variety of balloon pilots return to the field to fire up the burners on their tethered balloons in the annual Night Glow, sublimely illuminating the festival grounds to the delight of the crowds.

The Festival of Balloons also features a six-on-six soccer tournament, eating contests, the annual Festival of Cars classic auto show, and the Twilight 5K run/walk and Twilight Run; the mile course is especially popular with kids—it’s an untimed event and T-shirts for the event are available in child sizes only. The three-day admission pass to the Festival of Balloons is less than $10, and other than registration fees to enter the Twilight Run, soccer tournament, or car show competition, only the carnival rides cost extra. Bring cash for food and drinks; many of the vendors are set up for credit card transactions as well. Festival parking is available on the Tigard High School field for $5, which benefits Tigard High School (THS) Breakfast Rotary & THS Boosters. The parking entrance is at the THS Swim Center Parking Lot. There is a short walk down the Cook Park hill to the festival grounds, or you may ride the shuttle for only $1 (benefits American Cancer Society/ Relay for Life). The Festival of Balloons is produced by a nonprofit organization and raises funds for many nonprofit groups in Tigard.

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