Preakness Hot Air Balloon Festival, fun family events for kids in Washington DC
Last weekend we finally had a rain free day (70+ days of rain this year!) and headed out to the Preakness Hot Air Balloon Festival in Ellicott City, Maryland. We had so much fun at this event last year so I was really excited we were able to take Brady again this year.
The Balloon Festival is held at Turf Valley Golf Resort so it was a pretty good drive for us. It was a Friday evening and the crowd was much bigger than last year so lines for parking were pretty long. We parked at the shopping center and walked over to avoid the lines for the shuttle bus from the fairgrounds parking area.
They have a street festival type set-up in the parking lot and then all the hot air balloons are spread out across the greens. Food trucks and vendors, a little train for the kids and Firetrucks. There is also a VIP/private events tent area. The lines for food were very long this year, so thankfully we had packed a few snacks. We also brought Brady’s buggy car which was a big help. Lots of parents pull their kids around in little wagons too.
There’s plenty of space on the greens to layout a blanket and just enjoy watching the balloons go up and come back down. The wind delayed the balloons from taking off for us for the first hour, but then we got to see a few take flight. It’s such an awesome experience, just to see all these beautiful brightly colored balloons floating through the sky.
This year we waited in line and took a tethered ride on one of the balloons. I completely underestimated how loud and hot it was so unfortunately Brady was not very excited for our short ride up. My niece on the other hand loved it and wanted to go again!
At dark everyone gathers on the greens to watch the balloon glow. Each balloon is announced and fires up his flame to make the balloon “glow” against the night sky. For the grande finale all the balloons are lit up and it’s just such an awesome thing to see.
I bought B a styrofoam neon glow stick and he waved it at the balloons and shouted “Wallykazaaam!” When one lit up he got so excited, truly convinced he had made it glow. In that moment I was the happiest mom in the world, just lying there with my boys watching these balloons light up the sky, listening to my son make magic.
If you have a chance to visit a balloon festival with your little you should definitely go! There are lot’s of them hosted throughout the summer. Check out this schedule to see where and when they are