We had been trying for a few years to make it to the Telluride hot air balloon festival. This year was finally the year we made it, and we were so excited. What you find online about the festival can be a little vague, so I’m putting together a guide to the Telluride Hot Air Balloon Festival so you know exactly what to expect and how to plan for it.
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When the Telluride Balloon Festival Happens
The Telluride hot air balloon festival takes place on the first weekend in June each year. This includes Saturday and Sunday launches.
When we attended the festival, we stayed in Ouray and drove over early that morning. It’s about an hour drive from Ouray, but we found a great rental over there.
Otherwise, you can stay in Telluride as well. Mountain Village is just a gondola ride away with great hotels. Telluride has great places to stay as well (see bottom of post for suggestions!)
Where the Telluride Hot Air Ballon Festival Occurs
The hot air balloon festival happens at Town Park in Telluride. This park is at the end of the downtown area off Colorado Ave.
There is parking at the park, but it will fill quickly. You’ll probably end up parking on the road, which is metered.
Town Park is a beautiful park in Telluride. There is a great big grassy area (where the balloons will be laid out) as well as an amphitheater area and pond as well as sports areas.
If you really want to be at the Balloon Festival on time, you can camp at Town Park.
Telluride Hot Air Balloon Festival Schedule of Events
What’s cool about the Telluride balloon festival is that it happens over a couple days. Not only that, but there are morning and night events so you get to see the balloons in different lighting.
Here is a general schedule of events for the Telluride balloon festival, as told to me by one of the coordinators.
Like I said previously, we have tried to go to this a couple years in a row. Each year, I reach out and ask about the schedule and it remains the same, so this is given with the assumption that it will remain the same in the future. I’m unable to find a detailed schedule online, so hopefully this helps!
Saturday/Sunday Morning Schedule
6:00 am – the official start of the balloon festival. Everyone gathers and the balloons start to arrive.
6:20 – the pilot briefing begins. Onlookers still wait as the excitement builds.
6:30 – balloons begin to get inflated. This is a fun time to take pictures and take in just how big the balloons are.
6:45 – around this time, the balloons are inflated. Soon the launch will happen!
Balloons stay in the air over an hour and descend around 8:00.
Weather Influences at the Telluride Balloon Festival
Please keep in mind that all of this is highly dependent on weather. If conditions are not just right, balloons will not launch.
This was the case when we (finally!) made it to the Balloon Festival. Usually around 20+ balloons participate in the balloon launch (as told to us from past festival-goers). But this time, since the weather wasn’t ideal, only 4 came.
They inflated their balloons and hung out in the park so everyone could take pictures, talk to the balloon pilots, and some people even got to go into a side-laying inflated balloon.
But the wrong weather can call off the launch.
Be prepared for this to happen and be okay with it! You’ll still get to see big, beautiful balloons in the park. And it’s fun talking to the pilots about their time and experiences.
After the festival, walk through town to find a great bakery in Telluride to grab some breakfast!
Telluride Balloon Festival Night Glow
Whether the balloons launch or not in the morning, you still have another opportunity to see the hot air balloons in all their majesty.
At night time, the main street in Telluride is blocked off. The cars leave and the balloons arrive. Here, the balloons will inflate (but not launch) and put on a glowing display of colors along Colorado Avenue.
The party begins at 6:00 pm, however, since it’s summertime when this happens (and not far from the summer solstice), the glow doesn’t happen until around 8:00 pm when it’s finally dark enough.
The balloons stay lit on the main street for about an hour and everything is cleared out by 10:00pm.
Where to Stay near the Telluride Balloon Festival
To have closer accommodations for this early morning festival, check out the best hotel in Telluride:
Want more space? Check out rentals near Town Park in Telluride.
Telluride Hot Air Balloon Festival
Hopefully that helps you plan out your trip to see the Telluride balloon festival! Even though we only saw a few balloons inflate, it was still beautiful and exciting for the kids. I can’t imagine how cool it will be to finally see all the balloons arrive and lift at the Telluride Hot Air Balloon Festival in the future.
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