Floating on air

Looking for a hot-air balloon festival? Keep your eyes on the skies.

A balloon at the Eyes to the Skies Festival in Lisle, Ill.

If you've ever seen "The Wizard of Oz,'' you probably love hot-air balloons.

They're great and powerful and definitely eye-filling. And they're coming to a festival near you.

See balloon launches and, at night, a "glow'' as the balloons are lighted. At many festivals, the public can go on tethered-balloon rides, and at some, private companies offer flights over the countryside.

Balloon rides are very popular, so reserve in advance when a festival offers them.

One caveat: If it's a windy day, owners won't be able to inflate their balloons.


Monroe Balloon Rally in Monroe, Wis. This event in the southern Wisconsin cheese capital also includes a blues festival, classic-car show and arts and crafts fair.

Great Galena Balloon Race in Galena, Ill. This event at Eagle Ridge Resort offers public flights and rides on tethered balloons. There are also night glows, music, a car show and a Friday-night Alefest.


Eyes to the Skies in Lisle, Ill., in the western Chicago suburbs. There's also a carnival, craft fair, fireworks and parade.

Lake Red Rock Balloon Fest near Pella, Iowa. This festival on Iowa's largest lake includes launches, night glows, music and paddling and nature programs offered by the Army Corps of Engineers, which manages the recreation area.

Balloon Rally & Glow in Wausau, Wis. Events that weekend also include Ribfest and, downtown, Chalkfest.

Waterford Hot Air Balloon Festival in Waterford, Wis., between Milwaukee and Lake Geneva.

Galesburg Balloon Race in Galesburg, Ill., on Lake Storey.

National Balloon Classic in Indianola, Iowa. There are rides for the public during this big fest in central Iowa.


Balloon Rally in Seymour, Wis. This is part of the Hamburger Festival in this town near Green Bay.

Balloon Fest in Centralia, Ill. This southern Illinois fest also includes music, cardboard boat races and fireworks.


Southwest Iowa Hot Air Balloon Days in Creston, Iowa. In addition to balloon races and night glows, there's a parade with marching-band contest, an arts and crafts fair and a flea market.

Quad Cities Balloon Festival in East Moline, Ill. This festival at the Rock Island County Fairgrounds includes balloon glows, launches and tethered rides.

For more festivals, check HotAirBalloon.com.

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