Hosted by the twin cities of Lewiston and Auburn, the Great Falls Balloon Festival is held annually in August. Dozens of balloons fill the sky above the Androscoggin River, creating a visual feast for the eyes. Nearly 100,000 people line the banks of the river in the Simard-Payne Memorial Park to catch a glimpse of these magnificent flying aircraft. The festival offers live entertainment, carnival rides, games, and food vendors.
Weather permitting, balloons launch at 6:00 AM and 6:00 PM on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of the festival. Watching from the launch site, spectators witness the intricate process of filling the balloons, then gasp in awe as the vessels slowly inflate and rise toward the sky. Every balloon is different, featuring brilliant patterns and elaborate designs. Balloons of a special shape are particularly fun to watch. Though the special-shaped balloons only fly in the morning, they remain inflated throughout the day to entertain the crowd.
Balloon Ride Details
Hot air balloons travel wherever the wind takes them. To be a passenger on one of the balloons at the festival, you need to purchase a ticket in advance and complete the ride application. Balloon baskets carry from 2-10 passengers, so if you’re up for a unique adventure, book your tickets well in advance. For those who prefer a more contained experience, tethered balloon rides are available in the main field.
Friday Night “Moonglow”
Throughout the 3-day festival, food vendors keep hungry guests satisfied, musicians entertain, and carnival rides create thrills for the young and the young at heart. One of the highlights of the festival is the Friday night “moonglow”. A crowd favorite, when the balloons return from their night flight, pilots keep the balloon burners lit creating a ground level light show.
As with any event that draws a crowd the Great Falls Balloon Festival features more than just hot air balloons. A pancake breakfast pre-flight on Saturday and Sunday mornings gets things going. The festival parade on Saturday begins on Elm Street in Auburn beginning at 11:00 AM and continues entertaining spectators throughout town for approximately 2 hours. Sunday is “Family Fun Day” with games including a fun run, diaper dash, toddler trot, hay rides, and face painting.
The event planners want the attendees to pay close attention to the few restrictions they enforce during the festival:
- No smoking is allowed.
- Leave your pets at home.
- Skateboards, bikes, roller blades and other wheeled toys are not permitted. This is a safety caution as the walkways are filled with spectators, especially at launch time.
- No alcohol is permitted.
- Flying drones during the event requires prior written permission.
Witnessing hot air balloons in flight is not an everyday occurrence. But the twin cities of Lewiston and Auburn treat spectators to the Great Falls Balloon Festival every August to share the joy of these magical aircraft. The fairgrounds are located less than a half-hour drive from our Wolf Cove Inn, which makes our B&B an ideal choice when attending this spectacular event. Be sure to book early for this sellout affair and bring a sense of adventure. Don’t worry if you can’t make it to the festival this year. There are countless festivals and activities throughout the year, especially ones where you can enjoy Maine’s fresh air and open spaces. Check out our Visitors Guide for more information about things to do near the Inn, or the best way to enjoy an unforgettable getaway in magnificent Maine.