If there’s a reason to look forward to January, it’s the 5th Annual Havasu Balloon Festival and Fair scheduled for January 16-18th on the Island at the Nautical Inn Golf Course. In five short years, the local balloon festival has grown to be one of the largest in the country with 70+ hot air balloons and pilots and over 1,000 volunteers.

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One of the most unique events at the balloon fest is the night glow event. If you’ve never been down on the field in the evening during a night glow when the pilots inflate and light up these giant balloons, you’re in for a treat that will take your breath away.

Best of all, noted Dean Baker, the marketing director for the balloon festival, “All of the proceeds are donated to local civic groups, and they in turn donate the money locally to their favorite charities. Proceeds donated from the 2014 event were a staggering $105,000.” While the balloons can be seen all over town, it is important to note that the admission price ($10 for a three-day pass, kids 14 and under are free) helps raise the money for the charities around town. “It also gives people of the community a chance to get up close and personal with the balloon pilots and their balloons”,notes Baker.

This year’s event, like in the past, continues to grow with the addition of more vendors and activities that are of interest to young and old alike. For balloon enthusiasts (or those of you that have never been around a balloon before), this event features a number of great activities such as tethered balloon rides that give people a feel for the sensation of riding in a balloon. While there are activities from early morning to late at night, the event really centers on early morning and early evening. The mass ascension, the lifting off of the hot air balloons, takes place early in the morning with the flight ceremony scheduled for approximately 7:20 a.m. each morning. Gates open at 6 a.m. and it is fascinating to walk around the balloon field and watch the pilots inflate their balloons.

Evening is another exciting time as all of the balloonists participate in the Field of Fire or night-glow event. Basically, all of the pilots inflate their balloons on the field and light up their balloons. It is a sight unlike any other, and if you’ve never seen one before, you need to make sure to check it out and bring your camera for some awe-inspiring photographs. The only way you can truly experience the full feel of the mass ascensions and night-glow events is to purchase a ticket and actually get down on the balloon field. Pilots enjoy showing off their balloons and talking about their passion for ballooning. The Field of Fire is scheduled for 6:30 in the evening, but give yourself plenty of time to get onto the island–this event that draws thousands of spectators.

The carnival-like atmosphere spread out across the golf course provides a family-fun day of entertainment featuring carnival rides and a variety of food vendors. Souvenirs are also available as well as a number of arts and crafts. Music will also be in fashion as a number of concerts are scheduled throughout each day with events starting at noon and running through 9 p.m. Car show displays, dog shows, special fly-overs, a Kidz Zone, sky diving performances, kids paper ballooning, and other special events will make this year’s balloon fest a three-day event that you and your family will remember for many years to come.

For more information and updates, check out www.HavasuBalloonFest.com

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