Kentucky Derby Festival Great Balloon Glow and Race

Five Events in One Balloon Festival

Image © Mali Anderson

What do you get when you combine the annual Kentucky Derby Festival Great Balloon Race and the annual Kentucky Derby Festival Great Balloon Glow? Well, add a few more balloon events and you get the Great BalloonFest. All of the following events are sponsored by U.S. Bank, one of the major funders of the Kentucky Derby Festival. Visit the Kentucky Derby Festival website for times and more information.

All of the balloon events are part of the Kentucky Derby fun!



Kentucky Derby Festival Crew Challenge

Where: Kroger’s Fest-A-Ville on the Waterfront
At this event, balloon crews compete against one another. Participants need to stay on path and complete a challenge. Getting a bag of bluegrass seed closest to an agreed upon target, for example. 

Kentucky Derby Festival Great Balloon Glimmer

Where: Kroger’s Fest-a-Ville on the Waterfront
A smaller version of the Balloon Glow, the crowds are slimmer at this event. So although it may be a tad less spectacular than the Balloon Glow, visitors can get closer to the balloons themselves and chat with the balloon pilots.

Kentucky Derby Festival Great Balloon Rush-Hour Race

Where: Starts at Bowman Field
The timing of this race is synched up with area commuters. Watch the balloons take off at Bowman Field or watch the colorful orbs float over downtown and across the Ohio River from your office window. Of course, these events depend on weather conditions. Paths and times are all subject to change if there is inclement weather. 

Kentucky Derby Festival Great Balloon Glow
Where: Kentucky Exposition Center (there is a parking fee at the Kentucky Exposition Center)
This is a busy annual event with whole families making an evening of it. The gates typically open around 6 p.m. and their is food for sale and rides. Then, when it is dark, usually around 9 p.m., pilots begin to fire their burners. Then the balloons glow and shimmer against the Kentucky night sky. Some opt to sit back and watch the glow from a distance, while others mingle from balloon to balloon, talking to pilots about the sport of hot air ballooning.

Admission to the event is free with a Pegasus Pin.

Kentucky Derby Festival Great Balloon Race

Where: Bowman Field
This balloon race has grown over the years. The first Kentucky Derby Balloon Race took place in 1973. That year, only seven balloons took part and the festivities took place in Iroquois Park—the same park that is known for hiking, biking, spray grounds and more. The race has grown into two morning races, giving everyone more opportunities to see the beauty of the hot air balloons in flight.

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