One of the reasons we think Reno Tahoe is so special is the abundance of unique special events, and arguably one of the most iconic events in the area is The Great Reno Balloon Race. Up to 100 beautifully colored balloons float above Reno in the early hours of the morning. Fans can walk right up to them while the pilots prepare to inflate and get an experience that is unlike anything else in the world. Whether it’s your first time or you’re celebrating their 36th anniversary as a loyal follower, here are some tips to help you manage that early wake-up call at this year’s event held September 6-8, 2019.
With over 125,000 spectators coming out for the event over three days, parking tends to be a challenge. If you were not able to snag one of their VIP Parking Passes this year, there are still several options to get you into the park. There are two parking lots at Rancho San Rafael Park that make for a short walk to the launch field. For $10 you can park at the Sierra Street/McCarran lot or the Coleman Street lot starting at 3:30 a.m. University of Nevada, Reno offers their north parking lot to the public for free parking, but cars must be out of there by 10 a.m. RTC will also be offering rides from several spots around Reno and Sparks. For more information and specifics on parking, check out their Parking & Transportation page.
Balloon Boulevard is filled with everything you want on a chilly morning. You can find dozens of food vendors with everything from hot coffee to breakfast sandwiches to gourmet pastries. Of course, you’re free to bring your own food and beverages to cozy up on the field with, it just never hurts to grab a little something special to add to the mix. You’ll also find toys for the kids, gorgeous balloon memorabilia and the official GRBR merchandise tent. Don’t forget to get your hands on the 36th anniversary pin!
Children of all ages are drawn to the whimsical nature of the event, making for a family-friendly environment every year. Kids are free to run and play in the large regional park(but make sure to watch for other people and balloons!) and there is an entire section of Balloon Boulevard dedicated to kids. Bounce houses and slides provide additional entertainment once the balloons have flown off the field. Designated balloons will be giving tethered rides (for a small donation) to anyone wanting to experience the joy of flight. Be sure to meet and greet with the pilots, too! They will be handing out special trading cards so kids can try to collect as many as possible.
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