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Enjoy the Great Reno Balloon Race

Big Event for Free Family Fun

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The 2016 Great Reno Balloon Race will be from Friday, September 9 through Sunday, September 11. Come to Rancho San Rafael Regional Park to marvel at the world's largest free hot air balloon event.

It's free to attend the Great Reno Balloon Race, an event for the whole family. You do have to get up early, though, since hot air ballooning is an early morning sport and some activities start in well before the sun comes up.

Great Reno Balloon Race, Nevada, NV
Mass ascension of hot air balloons at the Great Reno Balloon Race. Photo © Stan White

Balloons at the Great Reno Balloon Race

Around 100 hot air balloons participate in the Great Reno Balloon Race. Most of us just enjoy the spectacle as the balloons rise into the sky each morning during the early morning mass ascension. For balloon pilots and crews, there really are balloon flying competitions with cash prizes.

Specialty balloons in a variety of shapes punctuate the dozens of traditional hot air balloons floating over Reno. Specialty balloons scheduled to appear in 2016 include Angry Bird, Peg Leg Pete, Walkin on Air, Jewel, Grande Raider, Mrs. Bell, Pencil Bay, Smokey Bear, Cent'r State, and several more. Other specialty balloons have included Smokey Bear, the Wells Fargo Stagecoach, Sushi the gold fish, La Ristra chili peppers, Norman the dragon, a seahorse, and several more.

Great Reno Balloon Race, Nevada, NV
Pre-dawn Glow Show and the big Darth Vader balloon at the Great Reno Balloon Race. Photos © Stan White

Main Events at the Great Reno Balloon Race

You have to get up before dawn to enjoy the most spectacular events like the Glow Show, Super Glow Show, and Dawn Patrol. The Super Glow Show on Friday only is an expanded, more spectacular version of this popular part of the event. The mass ascension of nearly 100 hot air balloons takes place as the sun comes up over the Virginia Range, which is still pretty early.

Balloon Boulevard of food, drink, and souvenir vendors operates during the morning activities, starting while it's still dark. Here is the schedule, but be sure to check the Great Reno Balloon Race official schedule for any last-minute changes.

Friday, September 9
3:30 a.m. – Gates open to Ranch San Rafael Park
5:15 a.m. – Super Glow Show
6:45 a.m. – National Anthem
7:00 a.m. – Mass Ascension Launch
7:00 a.m.-7:30 a.m. – Biggest Little Pajama Party
9:30 a.m. – E.L. Cord Foundation Tissue Paper Balloon Launch
10:00 a.m. – Competitions end
4:30 a.m.- 11 a.m. – Shopping along Balloon Boulevard

Saturday, September 10
3:30 a.m. – Gates open to Ranch San Rafael Park
5:00 a.m. – Glow Show
5:30 a.m. – Dawn Patrol
6:45 a.m. – National Anthem
7:00 a.m. – Mass Ascension Launch
8:00 a.m.-8:30 a.m. – Bed-Head Competition Judging
10:00 a.m. – Competitions end
4:30 a.m.- 11 a.m. – Shopping along Balloon Boulevard

Sunday, September 11
3:30 a.m. – Gates open to Ranch San Rafael Park
5:00 a.m. – Glow Show
5:30 a.m. – Dawn Patrol
6:00 a.m. - 8 a.m. – Girl Scouts Scavenger Hunt / Sign up to be a Girl Scout
6:45 a.m. – National Anthem
7:00 a.m. – Mass Ascension Launch
10:00 a.m. – Competitions end
4:30 a.m.- 10 a.m. – Shopping along Balloon Boulevard

The RE/MAX balloon will be providing tethered rides for the general public after the Mass Ascension. Rides are available for a $5 donation to the Children's Miracle Network.

Parking and Spectator Information for the Great Reno Balloon Race

Thousands of people converge on Rancho San Rafael Regional Park before dawn to enjoy the Great Reno Balloon Race. With so many people and cars moving about in the dark, it is imperative that you read and follow all "Parking and Transportation" information related to the event. The RTC RIDE park and ride program has pick-up points in Reno and Sparks so you can eliminate the parking hassle by riding the bus. Parking is prohibited along McCarran Blvd. due to safety hazards and parking laws will be enforced.

Be sure to read "Tips For Enjoying The Event" to learn rules and tips about how to have a safe and fun time at the Great Reno Balloon Race. Don't forget your camera to capture the colorful scenes on the ground and in the air. Do not bring dogs - pets are not allowed at Reno special events.

Source: Great Reno Balloon Race website and press releases.

Great Reno Balloon Race, Nevada, NV
Big crowds enjoy the mass ascension at the Great Reno Balloon Race in Rancho San Rafael Regional Park. Photo © Stan White

Video © Stan White

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