• Caitlin McAninch

Escape in a Balloon

Updated: Feb 16, 2019

The annual Reno Balloon Races were this past weekend. The Balloon Races, in my opinion, is the most beautiful event in Reno every year. They’re so wonderful that we go every year, even though it’s the same thing every time.

This year my grandparents planned their biannual visit to Reno around the races. My grandma loves them! So on Saturday morning, we woke up bright and early to go see the balloons!

In this post I just want to share what the balloon race schedule is, so next year all my readers will know exactly when to be there!

Every year the Reno Balloon Races are held at the Rancho San Rafael park, right where the dog park is! This year marks the 35th anniversary of the races, and it’s always the first weekend after Labor Day in September.

There are three main things to see at the Balloon Races: the Glow Show, Dawn Patrol, and Mass Ascension. The Glow Show is about 5-6 balloons that are on the ground, and light up. They’re kind of funny, because annually there is an announcer that goes, “three, two, one, glowwwwww.” And it’s just sort of a family joke of ours to laugh at him… Sorry announcer guy, but if you’ve been, I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.

Dawn Patrol is only on Saturday and Sunday, and it’s where six balloons line up and glow, twinkle and light up to the sound of music. Then, one by one in a coordinated dance, they lift into the sky as the sun begins to rise. It’s actually incredibly beautiful and great to see.

Shortly after the Dawn Patrol balloons take off, they come back to the ground. Then, all the sudden TONS of balloons begin filling with air across the field. Then, during Mass Ascension, all these balloons take off. During this time, spectators (as in you and me, the visitors) are encouraged to walk around the field, take pictures, and basically be in awe of all these massive balloons taking off. It’s incredible.


Thursday morning you can always see a few balloons scattering the sky in the morning, but it’s not a big day for spectators. It’s called the Media Day, and invited sponsors and media attend.


Friday morning there is a Glow Show at 5:15 am, then Mass Ascension is 7 am.


Saturday morning the Glow Show is at 5 am, Dawn Patrol begins at 5:30 am, and Mass Ascension is at 7 am. It’s always great to stay around til around 8 am to watch all the balloons take off. But, afterwards we always rush back to my mom’s. She only lives a few minutes away from the park, and every year there’ a number of balloons that land on her street on Saturday morning! This year there were four on her street, and at least 4 more on the surrounding streets. So neat!

It’s tradition that if the balloons land in your yard, they share Champaign with you! We didn’t get a bottle this year, but neighbors did! I’m pretty sure my mom got one last year!


Sunday is the same as Saturday: the Glow Show is at 5 am, Dawn Patrol begins at 5:30 am, and Mass Ascension is at 7 am. But afterwards, the actual race begins! One balloon leads the pack and drops a beanbag on a big X, and all the balloons guide themselves towards it. I think…

Even though the Balloon Race is the exact same every year: same announcer, same songs, same, everything, it’s still so great to see. I love the balloon races and will always continue going back.

Did you go this year? Do you love the Reno Balloon Races as much as I do?! Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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