Bayou Road Balloon Festival: New features take flight at the area’s only hot-air balloon fest

Here's what to expect at the unique, hot-air balloon festival taking off this weekend.

Giant and colorful hot-air balloons will soar over Chalmette this weekend at the Greater New Orleans area's only hot-air balloon fest. The second annual Bayou Road Balloon Festival takes off starting Friday, Nov. 9 at Sidney D. Torres Memorial Park.

The fest debuts a couple of new elements this year including a huge 18-wheeler hauling the Johnsonville Big Taste Grill on the grounds and custom LED-lighted "Kewl Kites" flying before the nightly balloon glows. Other highlights include a nightly balloon glow, tethered balloon rides, live music, food vendors and carnival rides.

Here's what you can expect at this unique festival.

Photo courtesy: John Snell

Here are the basics: Festival hours, location and ticket prices

The second annual Bayou Road Balloon Festival takes off at Sidney D. Torres Memorial Park this weekend. Festival hours are Friday from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Single-day passes are $5. Weekend passes are $10. You can buy tickets online in advance here. You can also purchase cash only tickets at the gate.

Photo courtesy: John Snell

New features taking off this year

Festival-goers can expect a few new features at this year’s festival. The pros from Mississippi-based company Kewl Kites will fly custom kites during a “Spectacular Kite Show” during the day and special LED-lighted kites before the night glow. Plus, kids can get in on the action with their own kites. The first 50 children who arrive at the festival each day can receive a free kite at the Superheat booth.

Plus, a huge 18-wheeler hauls the Johnsonville Big Taste Grill on the festival grounds. This is a serious tailgate with the “official sausage of the SEC.”  Proceeds help local educational organizations. A football viewing lounge will be nearby with lots of TVs to watch the LSU and Saints games.

Photo courtesy: John Snell

You can experience tethered rides in a hot air balloon

You can get a glimpse of what it’s like to be in a hot air balloon at the Bayou Road Balloon Festival. The festival will offer tethered hot air balloon rides during the festival, weather permitting. Tethered balloon rides means the balloons are tied off to the ground with ropes. Hot air balloon pilots will take you up about 50 feet. You’ll hover to see the festival grounds before returning to the ground. Typically balloons can carry two to three people at a time. Tickets for balloon rides are $20 cash only and can be purchased at the festival.

Ride Times:
Friday, Nov. 9 | 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 10 | 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Sunday, Nov. 11 | 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Photo courtesy: John Snell

A picturesque nightly balloon glow happens each evening

One of the highlights of the festival is the balloon glow that happens at dusk each evening. The festival will feature more than a dozen hot air balloons creating a spectacular night glow. The hot air balloon pilots will inflate their balloons and light the fire underneath. The result is picturesque and definitely something you don’t want to miss. If weather won’t permit the pilots to create the balloon glow, they will make a “ring of fire.” Get a glimpse of the colorful balloons, and learn more about the pilots here.

Balloon Glow Schedule:
Friday, Nov. 9 | 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 10 | 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Sunday, Nov. 11 | 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Enjoy lots of food from local vendors

Festival organizers say they’ll have quite a few food options from local vendors. We got the scoop on some of the items they will dish out for festival-goers. Some of the options include crawfish bread, po-boys, crawfish beignets, BBQ shrimp pasta, and muffalettas. Attendees can also enjoy carnival-style foods such as corn dogs, chicken on a stick, fried Oreo’s, funnel cakes and cotton candy.

See the full list of food vendors.

Photo courtesy: Bayou Road Balloon Festival

There's fun for all ages -- including carnival rides

There’s really a little something for everyone. Kids — and the young at heart — can enjoy carnival rides. You can purchase tickets and bands at the festival. Craft vendors will also be on-site. There’s also a football viewing lounge for fans who don’t want to miss the game. It’s a weekend for the whole family to enjoy.

Carnival Hours:
Friday, Nov. 9 | 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 10 | 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Sunday, Nov. 11 |10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Groove to some tunes from local bands

Of course, you can’t have a festival without great music. Several local and regional bands will hit the stage each day of the festival.

Festival Music Schedule:
Friday, Nov. 9
4:15 p.m. – 6:45 p.m. – Epic
7:15 p.m. – 9:45 p.m. – Voodoo Gumbo

Saturday, Nov. 10
11 a.m. – 12:45 p.m. – Noisewater
1:15 p.m. – 2:45 p.m. – Remedy
3:15 p.m. – 5:15 p.m. – Christian Serpas & Ghost Town
6 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. – Delta Revelry
8:15 p.m. – 9:45 p.m. – The Band of Heathens

Sunday, Nov. 11
11:15 a.m. – 1:15 p.m. – Cypress Pop Trio
1:45 p.m. – 2:45 p.m. – Dustin Cole
3:30 p.m. – 5 p.m. – Woodenhead
5:45 p.m. – 7:45 p.m. – Blackwater Brass