Sunday, June 02, 2013

Ten Tips for Hot Air Balloon Fest Fun

This will be year nine of my participation as a volunteer and my own personal enjoyment of the Gulf Coast Hot Air Balloon Festival that will be held in Foley on Father's Day weekend (June 14-15). I'm happy to share my 10 tips to boost your festival fun:
  1. Start with a glow. The festivities kick-off on Thursday night (June 13) with a spectacular balloon glow at Tanger Outlet where these colorful hot air balloons light up the night sky. The festivities starting at 6:30 include children's entertainment and opportunities to win prizes from Tanger Outlet stores.
  2. Park and ride. Parking at the festival is $5 but an even better idea is parking at Tanger Outlets and riding the free shuttle that runs Friday and Saturday from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m.
  3. Go to the dogs. Check the schedule and make time to see the Disc Connected K-9 World Famous Frisbee Dog Show. These amazing animals rescued from shelters are trained to perform and they seem to love every minute. I predict you will too.
  4. Get ice cream & corn dogs. No matter what diet you may be trying to stick to the homemade ice cream is a treat you can't pass up. The awesome corn dogs and other delicious temptations are sure to put you in the festival frame of mind.
  5. Bring your wallet. There's no entrance fee for the festival but you are sure to find a souvenir or unique hand-crafted item to remind you of the good times.
  6. Take the kids. Not only will the little ones love the hot air balloons and dog show they can explore the free Kids Zone featuring alligator petting (yes we pet our alligators in the South), face painting, dancing, limbo, rock climbing wall and more.
  7. Get your groove on. Dance the night away to the sound of Rhythm Intervention (Friday) and the Tip Tops (Saturday).
  8. Look down on the crowd. A limited number of tethered rides in a hot air balloon, which means a mini-ride with a great view up above the festival grounds, can be purchased in advance at South Baldwin Chamber or at the event.
  9. Rise early. If you want to watch the actual hot air balloon pilot competitions set your clock and arrive at 6 a.m. on Saturday morning, then head to the beach for a nice nap and come back around 5 p.m.
  10. Look to the skies. Each evening (weather permitting) around 7 p.m. the spectacle you have been waiting to see occurs as 45 beautiful "floating works of art" grace the skies above the festival grounds. Bring your camera to capture the magic of this sight you will never forget.
What a great way to share precious memories this Father's Day and see the sights at the Gulf Coast Hot Air Balloon Festival just minutes north of the beautiful beaches.