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The Great Forest Park Balloon Race 2024

The second oldest hot-air balloon race in the United States

Dates: September 20–21, 2024

The Great Forest Park Balloon Race is an annual festival that takes place every September in Central Fields in Forest Park, St.Louis, Missouri. It attracts over 150,000 spectators every year, being the most well-attended free balloon race in the country. The festival also features live music on two stages, performances from St.Louis dance troupes, skydiving shows, food trucks, kids' entertainment, and various vendors.

The Forest Park Balloon Glow takes place on Friday and is the most popular event of the festival, attracting plenty of spectators from across the Great St. Louis area. Colorful balloons glowing like huge lanterns in the middle of the dark park is indeed a magical sight! The balloons don't fly in the darkness but are lifted slightly for the best visual effect. The spectacular firework display ends the evening at The Great Forest Park with a big bang!

In addition to balloons, the program features food trucks, the PNC Bank Mobile Learning Adventure for kids, midway rides, activities from St. Louis Children’s Hospital, tractor fun with Sydentricker Nobbe, inflatables, and a DJ set on the Main Stage, which starts at 6 pm.

The Great Forest Park Balloon Race occurs on Saturday and is the oldest such event in U.S. history, only preceded by the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta. It was held for the first time back in 1973 by famous balloonists of that time—Nikki Caplan and John O’Toole. Since then, it has become one of the favorite free events for several generations of St.Louis families.

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