Three years after taking off as a premier fall event for High River and southern Alberta, organizers with the Heritage Inn International Balloon Festival are once again welcoming visitors.
Tourists and residents will not only enjoy the balloons soaring overhead, but also the once-in-a-lifetime Balloon Glow event.
The 2016 festival takes place from Sept. 21 to 25 with competition flights taking place throughout the week.
Organizer and balloonist Jamie Kinghorn said High River is the perfect place to get up close and personal with the balloons and their pilots as well.
“That’s one thing that’s unique about High River,” he said. “People will be able to walk right up to the balloons. They’ll be able to talk to the pilots and really get a sense of what ballooning is all about.”
Once again, the town is the host site for the 2016 Canadian Hot Air Championships. Twenty-five balloonists, some of whom will travel from Europe and the United States,
The Balloon Glow occurs the evening of Sept. 23, but will be rescheduled to Saturday night if weather is poor. Morning flights are expected to lift off at 8 a.m. and evening launches at 6 p.m., Kinghorn said.
The balloon glow features the crafts tethered to the ground and lighting up as pilots fire up their burners.
Organizers are talking with balloonists who own special shapes to have them participate in the 2016 Heritage Inn International Balloon Festival.
“The hospitality throughout High River has been really good for all the balloonists,” he explained, adding the landowners have been excellent when it comes to landing sites. “They like High River.”
As the main sponsor, the community’s Heritage Inn also acts as balloon central, Kinghorn said.
“If you get a room at the Heritage, you’ll be right in there among us balloonists and you’ll be more than welcome to come down to the (balloon) briefings and really get involved,” he explained.
In addition to the balloon festival, car enthusiasts and people of all ages will enjoy the annual River City Classics Car Club show n’ shine, which is to be held Sunday, Sept. 25.
Kinghorn suggested visitors stay within the community and take advantage of the numerous events that will be hosted Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
For more information on this exciting event, search Heritage Inn International Balloon Festival on Facebook. As the event grows closer, many more important details will be released. All ages are invited to attend.