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High River balloon festival flies high in fifth year

High River’s fifth Heritage Inn International Balloon Festival returns to the community this fall, bringing with it the thrills associated with the balloon glow and launches throughout the week.

Jamie Kinghorn, balloon festival organizer, noted guests can expect to see 25 balloonists attend the festival, and one or two surprises in the form of special balloon shapes.

“People come up to me constantly, year round, and are talking about the balloon event and what it does for the community,” Kinghorn said, adding its success is due to support from volunteers and sponsors.

This year’s festival starts Sept. 27 and finishes Oct. 1.

The Canadian Hot Air Balloon Championships will once again be hosted in the community, as part of the upcoming Heritage Inn Interna­tional Balloon Festival, he said.

The Balloon Glow occurs the eve­ning of Sept. 29, but will be resched­uled to Saturday night if weather is poor. The glow features the balloons tethered to the ground and lighting up as pilots fire the burners.

“The energy of that field is some­thing I’ve never felt before and I’ve been in hundreds of balloon glows,” Kinghorn said, noting there’s some­thing truly special about the event in High River.

The balloon glow will take place at the Spitzee Elementary School field. If the weather cooperates, he explained the crowd, lights, music and the glow itself offers visitors an “unbelievable experience.”

Despite being weather-dependent, flights are expected to occur twice a day beginning Sept. 27—morning flights launch one hour after sunrise and two hours before sunset for after­noon flights—Kinghorn said.

Kinghorn said balloonists continue to return to the Heritage Inn Interna­tional Balloon Festival due to friendly residents, welcoming landowners will­ing to have balloonists use their fields for landing and High River’s wonderful vistas.

For further details about the festival and flights, search Heritage Inn International Balloon Festival on Facebook. The festival is also in need of 125 volunteers, required for balloon crews, and details are available on social media.

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