The Great Reno Balloon Race is the world’s largest free hot-air ballooning event. With nearly 100 balloons and 120,000+ in attendance each year, the event is a permanent fixture in Reno’s September skyline. This family-friendly event has grown dramatically in size – from just 20 hot-air balloons in its 1982 humble beginnings to upwards of 100 colored masterpieces taking to the sky, including a variety of special shapes. The number of lives touched by the beautiful spectacle continues to rise just like the balloons themselves.

On the ground, spectators—some clad in pajamas—sit atop blankets or folding chairs gripping hot beverages or mimosas and gaze into the early morning sky for the ethereal Glow Show that takes place before the sun rises. Following that, some hot-air balloons launch for Dawn Patrol while the rest rise later at Mass Ascension, and a select group begins the competition portion of the eponymous race. Visitors look on in awe, patronize vendors, and take tethered rides in some of the balloons. With 100 percent of visitors surveyed reporting that they would recommend the event to friends and 98 percent planning to return, the tradition of attending the yearly race will only continue to grow.

This year’s Great Reno Balloon Race will take place from September 6-8, 2019 at Rancho San Rafael Regional Park in Reno, Nev. 

Ely area residents can find out more, including information on lodging and transportation, at