This three-day festival brings families to Centralia, Illinois, for hot air balloons, live entertainment, and family activities from Friday, August 18, through Sunday, August 20.
Nestled in a 300-acre nature park, Balloon Fest offers a unique hot air balloon experience compared to other festivals. Attendees can bring chairs or a blanket to sit on the lawn under the shade of trees to view thirty-eight hot air balloons inflate, take-off, and glow right in the middle of the crowd.
“With the atmosphere of the park, we have some of the best hot air balloon photos and videos taken by attendees. There are trees in the background and a pond for reflections of the magnificent, colorful balloons. Plus, attendees can walk up to each balloon to see it all happen up-close,” says Marcus Holland, executive director of the Centralia Chamber of Commerce.
Balloon Fest hot air balloon events are scheduled as follows, weather depending:
• All balloons fly on Friday, August 18, at 5:30 p.m., then balloons glow at 7:30 p.m.
• VFW / American Legion sponsored POW / MIA Freedom Flight balloon will take off on Saturday, August 19, at 5:30 p.m. to honor veterans, then all balloons will glow at 7:30 p.m.
• Tethered hot air balloon rides are scheduled for Friday and Saturday from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. at $10 per person. All flights are reserved for sponsors.
• Local pilots will close the event with an evening flight on Sunday, August 20, at 5:30 p.m.
Park hours are 3:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and then 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Sunday.
“Even though hot air balloons are the star of the show, we have some great live entertainment before and after the scheduled hot air balloon events,” adds Holland.
Headlining entertainment on Friday from 8:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. is The Mellow D’s a variety band from St. Louis, who will make everyone dance and sing with their pop and rock hit covers. The opening act on Friday at 4:00 p.m. is the local pop duo The Presswoods.
After the balloon glow on Saturday from 8:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. is Roaming Home from Southern Illinois. They play a little bit of country, rock, and classic hits for everyone’s enjoyment. The opening act on Saturday at 3:00 p.m. is Americana-folk duo Snowbird Street Band.
Sunday is Free Family Fun Day from 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. with free inflatable jumps, kids’ crafts, selfie scavenger hunt, games, and more family activities like the Car & Motorcycle Cruise-In and Cardboard Boat Racing. The closing entertainment is the blues group Eastsider Review Band from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Admission is only $5 per person for all three days! Kids under 2 years old are free. Parking is available at $5 per car per day.
For more information or to see the full schedule visit www.centraliaballoonfest.com.
Other hot air balloon events take place in Centralia the week leading up to the event and each morning before the event. Hot air balloons are scheduled to fly within two hours of sunrise and two hours before sunset, when the winds are calmest. Hot air balloons fly with one pilot and up to four passengers. Due to heat and potential wind gusts, hot air balloons are not safe to fly during the middle of the day during the Illinois summer. The balloon glows are static displays during dusk when the flame of the burner creates a glow throughout the balloon. All hot air balloon scheduled events are weather dependent.
Centralia Balloon Fest is an event located in Centralia Foundation Park and hosted by The Greater Centralia Chamber of Commerce since 1990. It features thirty-eight hot air balloons, live entertainment, plus over one hundred vendors at the food and craft fair. This three-day festival has a committee of fifty people, over one hundred sponsors, approximately five hundred volunteers, and draws an average attendance of 30,000.