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Enjoy the 2023 Great Reno Balloon Race

Big Event for Free Family Fun

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The 2023 Great Reno Balloon Race will be from Friday, September 8 through Sunday, September 10. 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 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 2023 include the Black Sheep, Smokey Bear, Sushi, Bila, Lindy, Humpty Dumpty, SnoBird and 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 Super Glow Shows and Dawn Patrol. The Super Glow Show begins at 5 a.m. on each day of the event and features 35+ balloons. The mass ascension of around 100 hot air balloons takes place as the sun comes up over the Virginia Range, which is still pretty early. New this year are balloon ride opportunities with Balloon Nevada. Check the website for details.

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 of events for any last-minute changes.

Friday, September 8

  • 3:30 a.m.- Gates open to Rancho San Rafael Regional Park
  • 5:00 a.m. – Super Glow Show
  • 5:30 a.m. – 40th Anniversary of Dawn Patrol
  • 6:45 a.m. – Reno Air Races T-6 Flyover
  • 6:50 a.m.- National Anthem with Ashley Melendez
  • 7:00 a.m. – Mass Ascension Launch
  • 9:30 a.m. – E.L. Cord Foundation Tissue Paper Balloon Launch
  • 4:30 a.m.- 11:00 a.m – Shopping along Balloon Boulevard

Saturday, September 9
Paint The Park Pink

  • 3:30 a.m.- Gates open to Rancho San Rafael Regional Park
  • 5:00 a.m.- Super Glow Show
  • 5:30 a.m. – 40th Anniversary of Dawn Patrol
  • 6:50 a.m. National Anthem – Sierra High Notes
  • 7:00 a.m.- Mass Ascension Launch
  • 4:30 a.m.- 11:00 a.m.- Shopping along Balloon Boulevard

Sunday, September 10

  • 3:30 a.m.- Gates open to Rancho San Rafael Regional Park
  • 5:00 a.m – Super Glow Show
  • 5:30 a.m. – 40th Anniversary of Dawn Patrol
  • 6:50 a.m. – National Anthem with Nick Eng
  • 7:00 a.m.- Mass Ascension Launch
  • 4:30 a.m.- 11:00 a.m.- Shopping along Balloon Boulevard

After the Mass Ascension, there will be tethered balloon ride opportunities starting at about 8 a.m. Rides will be offered by Renown Children's Hospital, Custom Ink and two GRBR Rising Star Pilots.

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 service has a free park and ride program with a pick-up point in Reno at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center. Eliminate the parking hassle by riding the bus. Parking is prohibited along McCarran Boulevard 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.

May Museum - Special Hours and Free Admission

The Wilbur D. May Museum is right in Rancho San Rafael Regional Park next to the event. It will be offering special hours and free admission during the Great Reno Balloon Race.

  • Friday, September 8: 7 a.m. - 1 p.m.
  • Saturday, September 9: 7 a.m. - 1 p.m.
  • Sunday, September 10: 7 a.m. - 1 p.m.

Source: 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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