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Are you ready for the most colorful event of the season? Starting early in the morning on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, have your eyes to the skies as over 100 bright and colorful hot air balloons lift off for the Reno Hot Air Balloon Races. This event is the largest free hot air balloon event in the world and is right out the back door. In 1982 the event took place with only 20 balloons and now, 35 years later, it is a world-renowned and locally beloved community tradition.

It is an early morning. However, the experience is astonishing and well worth the early alarm wake up. The first event starts at 5:00am each morning with Dawn Patrol. It is still dark outside as everyone gathers at the park. Coffee and pastries are available and the excitement can be felt with other fellow balloon spectators. The early morning portion of the event consists of a handful of balloons that are qualified to fly in the dark. The balloons glow, twinkle and fly along with choreographed music across the darkened sky.

As the sun rises and the air starts to warm up there is a small break as the balloons are preparing for take-off. Wandering around the wide open grounds of Rancho San Rafael Park is a great opportunity to talk and mingle with the balloon crews and balloon drivers. Before you know it, the balloons start to rise all around. These balloons are truly giants. It’s incredible. They come in all shapes, colors and sizes. Then, slowly, each balloon takes off one by one filling the sky above. It is a wonderful spectacle and experience that you will never forget.

There is fun to be had all day at the park. Check out Balloon Boulevard for crafts, souvenirs, food and drinks. Tethered balloon rides for children are available to experience what it is like to hang in a basket below the great balloon. Don’t bother to change out of your nighty. This event is also the world’s largest pajama party with competitions for the best pajamas and best bed head.

Don’t miss this truly magnificent event. See you there bright and early!

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