Hot-air balloons have finally shattered the storks' monopoly on carrying humans in baskets. Engage in competitive markets with today’s Groupon: for $8, you get two passes to any event on the schedule at the Arizona Balloon Classic (up to a $20 value). The festival is held on November 18, 19, and 20 at Wild Horse Pass at the Gila River Indian Community in Chandler.
The Arizona Balloon Classic populates the skies with wind-riding plumes of more than 25 brightly patterned balloons that rise from the festive hubbub of a family-fun zone, and fairground eats. Balloons race during Hare and Hound competitions as passengers flap their arms to catch a passing breeze or eagle tail feather. On Friday and Saturday evening, the Desert Glows show tethers illuminated vessels just above the ground as their lights pulse in time to family-friendly music. Afterward, a Saturday-only fireworks show fills the sky with a victorious light show marking the day's progress in the never-ending war against gravity.
Standard lot parking is an additional $5 and VIP-parking passes are available for $7.
Arizona Balloon Classic
It begins with a flurry of activity. Balloon operators prepare for lift-off, checking equipment and tossing ropes as spectators wander the grounds, observing the action. And then it reaches a new level: dozens of balloons take flight at once, filling the crisp January dawn sky with brilliant blues, purples, oranges, and reds that rival the colors around them. The Arizona Balloon Classic's orbs then set off on an aerial hare-and-hound race, drawing cheers from below as onlookers snap pictures.
For one weekend each year, visitors gather on the grounds to snap pictures and watch the balloons inflate and lift-off outside the Fear Farm Entertainment & Sports Complex for the Classic––a three-day festival celebrating hot-air balloon flight and culture. But the fun doesn't end with the descent to earth. After sunset the tethered balloons begin to glow, lighting up for the DESERT GLOWS portion of the festivities. Attendees browse exhibits and feast on treats from a variety of vendors, and children play in the Family Fun Zone. Last, on Saturday evening, sparks give balloons a run for their money, springing through the sky in a stunning fireworks display.