Snowmass Balloon Festival lifts spirits, brings community together

By Patsy Popejoy
September 10, 2012

Snowmass will become a hot air balloon Mecca with the highest altitude hot air balloon event in the country for the 37th Annual Snowmass Balloon Festival, September 14-16. Nearly thirty balloons will ascend upon the Snowmass mountain sky accentuating the beauty of an autumn weekend.

The Snowmass Balloon Festival runs Sept. 14-16.
Photo by Troy Hooper

The free spectators’ delight kicks off on Friday morning with the Colorado Rat Race, a timed distance race where all 27 hot air balloons sail down the Roaring Fork Valley along the 82 Corridor during rush hour from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. The weekend also includes the popular evening event The Balloon Night Glow, on Saturday with glowing balloons lighting up the night sky. Barbeque foods by Big Hoss Grill, will be available for purchase along with a free live concert performed by Better Than Bacon. And make sure you bring the kids because there’s plenty of things for them to do at the free Kids’ Elevation Station that entertains the little ones with clowns, juggling, face painting, balloon-making, and a house of bounce all weekend long.

All balloon events are free and are open to the public. The balloons launch from the Snowmass Village Softball Field at 7:30 a.m. each morning. A café-light breakfast by Snowmass Bakery Expresso will be available for purchase. The Balloon Night Glow starts at 6 p.m., on Saturday night. For more information and a complete schedule, visit www.snowmassballoon.com and for lodging specials go to www.snowmasstourism.com or call 1-800-SNOWMASS (1-800-766-9627).

The Snowmass Wine Festival – September 14 &15

The Snowmass Balloon Festival is also complimented by the Snowmass Wine Festival presented by the Snowmass Village Rotary, which begins on Friday evening at 6:30 p.m., with a four-course dinner paired with Spanish wines at the Artisan Restaurant located in the Stonebridge Inn. Tickets are $125 per person with group discounts for tables of 8 or more. Call (970) 379-6577 to RSVP.

The Wine Festival continues with a Saturday grand tasting on the Snowmass Mall from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m., with samplings from over 300 different varieties of wine plus fabulous regional cuisine. Music is provided by Haden Gregg and there’s a live auction with items that include trips to destinations around the world, acclaimed wines and artwork. Tickets for Saturday’s wine tastings are $70 in advance at Sundance Liquor & Gifts, the Daly Bottle Shop, Four Dogs Wine & Spirits, Jimbo’s Liquor in Basalt and El Jebel Beverage in El Jebel or $80 at the festival entrance on Saturday. For more information, visit www.snowmasswinefestival.com or call (970) 379-6577.


Event Schedule:
Friday, September 14

6:30 AM Balloons Inflate

6:50 AM Sunrise, Balloons Launch

7:00 - 10:00 AM Event: “Colorado Rat Race – Down Valley Distance Race”

6:30 PM Four Course Winemakers Dinner at the Artisan Restaurant

Saturday, September 15

7:00 – 9:00 AM Café-Light Breakfast for purchase

7:30 – 8:00 AM Balloons Inflate The Snowmass Ascension - A coordinated launch of

all balloons participating in the 2012 Snowmass Balloon Festival. Once aloft, the balloons will float effortlessly above the Snowmass Valley for an hour or two, perhaps dropping down for a splash-n-dash in one of the golf course ponds, offering spectacular views and tremendous photographic opportunities.

8:00 – 9:30 AM Kids Elevation Station

1:00 – 5:00 PM Snowmass Wine Festival - Snowmass Village Mall

6:00 – 9:00 PM Big Hoss BBQ and Live Concert by Better Than Bacon

Snowmass Village Softball Field (Open to public)

7:30 – 9:00 PM The Balloon Night Glow/Candlestick Glows - Snowmass Village Softball Field

Sunday, September 16

7:00 – 9:00 AM Café-Light Breakfast for purchase

7:30 – 8:00 AM Balloons Inflate The Snowmass Ascension

8:00 – 9:30 AM Kids Elevation Stations

10:00 AM 37th Awards Ceremony – Snowmass Village Softball Field

In case of inclement weather, please call 970-922-2299 for the current status of the Snowmass Balloon Festival, from Friday morning September 14 through Sunday morning September 16.


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