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The National Balloon Classic is lifting off in Indianola on Friday. Here’s everything you need to know to make this sky-high entertainment uplifting.
- National Balloon Classic is a hot air ballooning celebration and competition July 29-August 6 in Indianola. The community has hosted the nine-day event for more than 50 years. More than 125 hot air balloons celebrate and compete in the event.
- Indianola is also the home of the National Balloon Museum at 1601 N Jefferson Way, Indianola.
- The event starts Friday and ends Aug. 6.
- Morning competition and viewing: On Dawn Patrol dates, July 30 and Aug. 6, gates are open 5-9 a.m. for Dawn Patrol viewing. Gates open on other dates 6-9 a.m. for morning flight viewing. Admission and parking are free for mornings only. Donations for parking are encouraged.
- Morning flights and Dawn Patrol are held weather permitting. No parking attendants, services, entertainment or amenities are available during morning hours. Flights directly over the balloon field are not guaranteed due to competition routes and weather conditions. A limited number of vendors may be open for food and beverage purchase, but this is not guaranteed.
- Evening activities start at 6:30 p.m. See schedule later in this article.
- Memorial Balloon Field, 15335 Jewell St, Indianola.
- Due to traffic congestion of this popular event, visitors are encouraged to approach Memorial Balloon Field from the east along Highway 92. Des Moines metro residents can depart the metro area to the southeast and take Highway 5 southeast to Highway S 23 south to Highway 92 and then west to the balloon field.
- Some GPS systems will take visitors on routes that are closed during the event.
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How to get tickets
- Tickets must be purchased in advance. Parking fees are included with ticket prices.
- Tickets purchased online must be printed in advance or available on a mobile device.
- Tickets are required for ages 6 and over. Ages 5 and under are free.
- Online tickets are $10. Retail tickets are $12. Retail tickets are available while supplies last at: Trubank locations in Des Moines, Indianola, Newton, Norwalk, Oskaloosa, West Des Moines; Hy-Vee in Indianola; McCoy True Value in Indianola, Lula Belle Designs in Indianola.
- The National Balloon Classic is an outdoor event. No refunds, rain checks or exchanges are possible. If hot air balloons are unable to fly due to wind conditions, live music and other scheduled entertainment (weather permitting) will still go on.
Know before you go
- Bring your own lawn chair or blanket. A limited number of chairs are available for rent.
- No more than two bags per person (backpacks, purses, etc.). Clear bags are recommended.
- In order to not obstruct views, pop-up tents, umbrellas, etc., are not allowed.
- Outside food or beverages and coolers are not allowed.
- Only registered service animals are welcome on property.
- Drones and weapons of any kind are not allowed.
- Tobacco smoking and vape smoking are not allowed.
- No religious or political paraphernalia are allowed on property or in the area.
- There is a gift shop.
Hot air balloon rides are available for purchase. Rides are available every morning or evening (weather permitting) July 29-August 6. Balloon rides sell out quickly. Contact Galena on the Fly, the official Ride Balloon Operator of the National Balloon Classic. 815-777-2747 buyaballoonride.com
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- Friday, July 29: NO early morning balloon activities. Evening activities start at 6:30 p.m. On the entertainment stage: dance band Fahrenheit. Balloons: Unique-shaped balloons will inflate to show off their curves.
- Saturday, July 30: At 5 a.m. Balloon Dawn Patrol — balloons take off in the pre-dawn and land after sunrise. Most balloons carry lights in the pre-dawn dark for safety. Sunrise is approximately 6:06 a.m. Evening activities start at 6:30 p.m. On the entertainment stage: oldies rock & roll band Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. Balloons: Opening the Skies flight. Mass ascension and unique shapes inflate. Sunset: Fireworks.
- Sunday, July 31: NO early morning balloon activities. Evening activities start at 6:30 p.m. On the entertainment stage: pop/rock mix Damon Dotson Band. Balloons: Flight and shape inflate. Dusk: Night glow with balloons inflating but remaining on the ground of the field. Balloons glow as burners fire up and heat the interior air.
- Monday, Aug. 1: NO early morning balloon activities. Evening activities start at 6:30 p.m. On the entertainment stage: original pop, rock, alternative and crossover country band The Sinclairs. Balloons: Flight.
- Tuesday, Aug. 2: NO early morning balloon activities. Evening activities start at 6:30 p.m. On the entertainment stage: rock & roll band 3DM Band. Balloons: Vintage balloons will inflate on the field grounds. Also, balloon flight.
- Wednesday, Aug. 3: NO early morning balloon activities. Evening activities start at 6:30 p.m. On the entertainment stage: rock & roll and cover band Not Quite Brothers. Balloons: Flight and night glow at dusk.
- Thursday, Aug. 4: NO early morning balloon activities. Evening activities start at 6:30 p.m. On the entertainment stage: modern country music band Trainwreck. Balloons: Flight. Fireworks at dark.
- Friday, Aug. 5: NO early morning balloon activities. Evening activities start at 6:30 p.m. On the entertainment stage: rock and cover band Punching Pandas. Balloons: Flight
- Saturday, Aug. 6: At 5 a.m. Dawn Patrol — balloons take off in the pre-dawn and land after sunrise. Most balloons carry lights in the pre-dawn dark for safety. Evening activities start at 6:30 p.m. On the entertainment stage: country music Jason Brown. Balloons: Flight and mass ascension. Fireworks finale at dark.
Teresa Kay Albertson covers crime, courts and local government in Ames and central Iowa for the Ames Tribune and Des Moines Register. Reach her at [email protected] or 515-419-6098.