The Great Forest Park Balloon Race Returns to St. Louis This Weekend

Sep 13, 2021 at 12:01 pm
Hot air balloons from years past. - Courtesy Great Forest Park Balloon Race
Courtesy Great Forest Park Balloon Race
Hot air balloons from years past.

Hot air balloons will once again illuminate the night and dot the sky this weekend with the return of the Great Forest Park Balloon Race.

When the event was announced back in July, we all collectively sighed in relief that the world had begun its return to “normal.” Now, with the delta variant raging, we all just need some sort of distraction, and Forest Park is offering one in the form of many, many hot air balloons at Emerson Central Fields (5625 Wells Drive in, St. Louis).

Last year saw the pause of the classic event due to the pandemic. Organizers chose to plan an alternate affair called “Lift Up St. Louis” which honored healthcare and other essential workers. This year returns to what many of us will remember from previous events. The 49th Great Forest Park Balloon Race kicks off on Friday, September 17, at 5 p.m. with family picnic areas, food trucks and other concessions. Live music begins at 6 p.m.

The balloon glow will start when the sun sets. The hot air balloons are usually behind a rope line, but if the weather allows it, the line will be removed for part of the night to let people chat with the crew and pilots. Fireworks will finish off the night, beginning at 9 p.m.

Saturday hosts the traditional race, with the fields opening at 12 p.m. for families to find their seats. There will also be games and activities to tide the kids over until the race starts. Music and performances by St. Louis-area theatre troupes and dancers are also expected.

Skydivers take flight at 3 p.m., with opening ceremonies beginning at 3:30 p.m. Balloons continue to launch after that, with the last take-off at 4:45 p.m.

While both events are free, VIP tickets can be purchased on for parking passes, “premier views” and more, according to the website.

Forest Park will also have a free concert by rock band The Stone Sugar Shakedown going on at the Boathouse (6101 Government Drive) from 1 to 5 p.m on Saturday. All ages are welcome with blankets or lawn chairs encouraged.

While it may only be Monday, we can dream of the weekend ahead, full of good times and plenty of hot air balloons.

SEE ALSO: Things to See and Do in St. Louis’ Beautiful Forest Park [PHOTOS]

Follow Jenna on Twitter at @writesjenna. Email the author at [email protected]
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