- East Texas Regional Airport: 269 Terminal Cir, Longview, TX 75603, United States
For one weekend in June every year, Longview residents and visitors lift off in a fleet of brightly-colored hot air balloons, vying for the position of top pilots in the annual Great Texas Balloon Race. The race has been going for four decades, and earned Longview the title of “Balloon Capital of Texas” in 1985, an honored conferred by the Governor of Texas at the time, Mark White.
Challengers come from all across US and the world to participate in the event, and it draws visitors alike to the city of Longview. As balloons start to fly on Friday morning, the venue comes alive with a wealth of activities for visitors young and old.
The race starts with a flight over Longview, but spectators won’t know where to camp ahead of time to witness the balloons flying overhead! Launch and landing sites change daily according to local wind and weather conditions. Then in the evening, a platoon of multicolored balloons takes to the skies for a brilliant, exciting display called the Balloon Glow. The public is invited to get close to the balloons, and can observe how balloons are inflated and operated.
In 2019, the organizers added a new entertainment to the schedule – Special Shapes – showcasing some of the most impressive hot-air balloon creations. Some noticeable exhibits include Armadillo Cowboy, Rocket the Flying Squirrel, and a crab-shaped balloon aptly-named Claw’d.
Kid’s Land is the answer for many parents bringing children along to see the sights. The cost is only $5 per child every day, and attractions include giant slides, bouncy houses, obstacles courses, jousting rings, bungee runs, climbing walls and even a separate toddler play area for the very little ones. Parents will want to show the kids around the grounds first and see all the balloons launch, and then perhaps drop off the kids at Kid’s land so they can steal a moment alone.
There will also be various arts and crafts vendors on site, although the list changes every year. Stroll over to see what the vibrant arts scene in Longview has to offer, and perhaps you will find something to bring back as an artsy and tasteful souvenir.
As the schedule runs from six thirty in the morning to midnight, be prepared to be there for a while. A variety of food vendors come every year to offer nourishment to hungry spectators, and you will likely find some of Texas’ famous BBQ waiting for you to dig in.
And for visitors who want a reason to stay out a little longer, there are live concerts every night following the Balloon Glow. Hang out with friends and family on the wide-open lawns of the race grounds, and sip a beer as you unwind after a day of excitement.
The race is only a short drive away from the ACRV park, making it a perfect base to camp with your family and attend the race. Here is a quick map of the route!