Celina is a very small town about 50 miles north of downtown Dallas, Texas. My wife found this online through Groupon and since she missed both the Plano and Albuquerque balloon events we decided to go to this one so she could experience at least one ballooning event. Because of where we live it was only a half hour drive for us. So we headed out early in the morning hours of October 17th, 2015 for the 10th Annual Celina Balloon Festival.
As with any of these ballooning events you have to set out way before the sun rises in the morning so it is very dark. We were driving in an unfamiliar area in the dark which posed a few issues finding the correct place to park. The signs were not lit up so we missed them and ended up following the balloonists into the launch area before we discovered our error. After turning around and backtracking we eventually found the parking area across the street from the event area which was at the Old Celina Park. Parking for this event is free (which is a very nice benefit).
The walk across the street was not too far but since it was still very dark it was a bit cautious. One of the strangest things to happen was that once we approached the event entrance we found that no one was ready to take tickets yet. We ended up walking in without anyone questioning us. As my wife found a two-for-one deal on Groupon we really had already paid but I gave them my printed ticket upon returning from a trip to the car to get the chairs that we brought. Normal admission was $10 per adult with half-off discount for students and free for children under 5 and seniors over 65.
Many of the booths were still not open this early with the exception of the breakfast taco booth. As with the Plano Balloon Festival there were a few people who show up early to see the balloons. Many others show up for the “festival” part of the event. This includes vendor booths, food booths, kid rides, and other non-ballooning events. We were part of the few that wanted to see the balloons fly.
We were not totally disappointed. As the sun begun to brighten the sky the balloon pilots started to fill the balloons with hot air. Although they ran a bit late the glow of the balloons by the burning gases is still a beautiful sight to see. We thought the weather was perfect. It was a bit chilly with very low wind speeds. Of course I am only an amateur meteorologist.
After a short wait the balloons were upright and ready. Then quietly and slowly they lifted off from the ground and took flight. The only sounds were of the roar of the gas igniting to create the hot air that fills the giant balloons. I love to watch these behemoths take to the sky but I was mostly happy to watch my wife get to see them. A few of the balloons I recognized from Albuquerque. Some I saw from Plano but all are worth watching.
There were a total of 12-14 balloons on the grounds. As with the Albuquerque event you could walk among the balloons and talk with the pilots and ground crews. This gives you a close up experience with the balloons.
Unfortunately not all the balloons were able to take flight. I don’t know if it was temperature or wind but more than half of the balloons did not leave the ground. One that did leave the ground made it over a fence and landed only yards away from its starting point.
One of the most disappointing things was that the tethered balloon ride(s) was not available. In fact I could not find out from anyone where they were even to take place. I was really hoping to get a ride experience with my wife to get her the ballooning experience.
Once the balloons had flown – or given up the possibility – our attention turned to the many vendor booths. It was still a bit early and not all the food booths were open yet so we declined on the food. There were dozens of booths with vendors selling a variety of items from souvenirs to clothing to real estate.
Again, there were many attractions for the kids (which we did not bring). There were large balloon slides, a petting zoo, a train ride, bounce houses, trampolines (with bungee cords for safety), and many other things that were there for the kids. Of course I was a little jealous that the kids got to do all of those things while excluding us “older” kids.
For more information about this event here is the website: