We found out about this fun hot air balloon event that is held annually at Lake Shawnee in Topeka, KS, and decided to hit the road and check it out.
I’ve only been to one hot air balloon event in the past and this event was way bigger than I was imagining! It was huge! My family loved this thing. We ended up taking my parents along (it was their anniversary) and they really enjoyed it as well.
This year was the 42nd year running this three-day, absolutely free event. No parking fees and no other fees. Of course, there are vendors surrounding the grounds where the balloons are lined up, so still plan on spending some money. They have all varieties of food to choose from. Fresh squeezed lemonade, turkey legs, BBQ, Asian Fusion, kettle corn, snow cones, funnel cakes, nachos, cotton candy…the list goes on and on. A kid’s dream! A carnival foodie’s dream! My kids loved the turkey legs.
The balloons themselves were pretty amazing. We attended the event on Friday night and they were supposed to be doing a balloon glow. They launched off only three balloons prior to the glow. But it was fairly windy and those balloons really took off. And the rest of the night was just hanging out waiting for the darkness to fall. Once it got close to nighttime, all of the remaining balloons got up and stayed down and then the glow happened.
Once the glow happened, it was pretty anticlimactic. Like really a let down afterwards. Would have been way more exciting to have some of them tethered to trees to actually go up in the air a ways and come back down. But I’m not in charge, so whatever.
It was still cool but just not many of the balloons actually took off Friday night so it wasn’t too exciting. My kids loved it and the youngest was just in awe of the three that actually took off.
Honestly, this is probably my favorite activity I’ve been to with my family in the last few years. The only downside to this was the parking situation. If you end up going to the rally in the future, find somewhere to park close by that’s not actually on the Lake property. It was a bear. They were great getting you parked in there like sardines before the event started, but once it was over, there were no more volunteers helping to guide you back out. There were cars just making their own roads and going in all different directions. It was absolute chaos. And our car literally moved about 20 yards in 40 minutes. Once they finally figured out how to get everyone out, it went quickly but that first 40 minutes stuck in the car with an almost two-year-old and two other kids that were up past their bedtime were pretty miserable. I mean crying and whining to the max.
It may have been better if I would have caved and been a “nice” mom and let my kids play in the inflatable slide/fun area. Ten bucks a pop! Whoever decided to put up shop at this rally is genius and made bank! Mean mom here wasn’t falling for that one. Sorry kids.
But they ended up having fun anyway, and granny and gramps did a good job spoiling them with junk food! Check this one out in the future … it was pretty fun!