LouisvilleKY’s famous balloonfest kicks off this week

Louisville, KY.  – The U.S. Bank Kentucky Derby Festival Great BalloonFest returns this week with five hot-air balloon events over the course of three days. It lifts off tomorrowThursday, April 26, and runs through Saturday, April 28.

The balloon festivities kick-off on Thursday, April 26, with the U.S. Bank Great Balloon Charity Race. Scheduled for lift off from Bowman Field at 7 a.m., it’s the first balloon event on the Festival’s schedule this year. The Charity Race will pit local celebrities against each other, as they try to win $1,000 for their charity of choice, donated by the Kentucky Derby Festival’s Foundation. The celebrities will be paired with balloons in a Hare and Hound format race. Over a dozen hot air balloons will chase the “Hare” balloon, U.S. Bank, for their shot at victory. The celebrities in the “Hound” balloons will try to drop a bag of bluegrass seed closest to the target for the win.

On Thursday night starting at 8:30 p.m, 18 balloons will participate in the U.S. Bank Great Balloon Glimmer on the North and South Great Lawn, of Kroger’s Fest-a-Ville. The Glimmer will be preceded by live music with A-Corde at 7 p.m. on the Great Stage.

JaR Balloons City Skyline

BalloonFest resumes the following morning (Friday, April 27) with the U.S. Bank Great Balloon Rush-Hour Race launching at 7 a.m. from Bowman Field. The Rush-Hour race offers a beautiful view for those sitting in traffic on their way to work. The fun doesn’t stop there, at 9 p.m. Friday night, the U.S. Bank Great Balloon Glow returns to the Kentucky exposition Center with 29 balloons participating, include five new special shape balloons. Glow spectators are encouraged to come out early (gates open at 6 p.m.) and make an evening out of it. At 9 p.m., the balloon pilots will fire their burners, making the balloons glow against the night sky synchronized to a musical score provided by 106.9 PLAY. The event will also be broadcast live on WLKY on MeTV Louisville 32.2.

On Saturday, April 28, BalloonFest will wrap up with its inaugural event, the U.S. Bank Great Balloon Race, launches at 7 a.m. from Bowman Field.  A field of 25 balloons will take flight from Bowman Field in the oldest portion of the BalloonFest.


Since the first Great Balloon Race was held in 1973, the Derby Festival’s balloon events have been considered among the best in the country by pilots from all around the world. BalloonFest attractions are annually among the most popular family-friendly events on the Derby Festival schedule.


The Kentucky Derby Festival Great BalloonFest is sponsored by U.S. Bank with Contributing Sponsor V.G Reed &Sons. Official Shapes Sponsor is Mortenson Family Dental. Q103.1 is the Media Sponsor of the Balloon Glimmer. 99.7 DJX is Media Sponsor of the Rush Hour Race and Great Balloon Race. 106.9 PLAY is Media Sponsor of the Great Balloon Glow.  WLKY TV is the TV broadcast partner for the Glow.

The Derby Festival is an independent community organization supported by 4,000 volunteers, 400 businesses and civic groups, Pegasus Pin sponsorships and event participation.  It entertains more than 1.5 million people annually. This involvement has made the Festival the largest single attended event in Kentucky and one of the leading community celebrations in the world.