Up, Up & Away

Dozens of hot air balloons take to the Triangle skies this Memorial Day weekend in the inaugural WRAL Freedom Balloon Fest, the first hot air balloon festival to come to the region in nearly 25 years.

More than 40 balloon pilots and teams from across the U.S. will take part in the free fest, at both Bennett Bunn Plantation in Zebulon, and Spring Forest Road Park in North Raleigh.

Events run Friday through Monday morning and include a mass ascension, nightly balloon “glows,” competition flights, and the chance to climb into a balloon for your own tethered ride!

(Notes: Tethered balloon rides are $20 for adults, $15 for children 3 to 12, and free for children 2 and younger. A portion of these proceeds benefits the community service work of the Raleigh Jaycees. A limited number of full balloon flights will be available at the Zebulon fest site, at $300 per person.)

Meet and greet balloon pilots, tour balloon baskets, collect balloon cards and learn about the oldest form of manned flight. 

Food trucks will be on hand at the Raleigh site, and OId North State Catering of Fuquay-Varina will serve up a menu of barbecue, roasted corn and more in Zebulon. Also in Zebulon, Lincoln Brewing Co. of Raleigh will offer 30 different beers, with a portion of beer sales benefiting the American Red Cross.

Shopping opps abound, in the Zebulon Chamber of Commerce’s Merchants Village Tent, enjoy the Children’s Hospitality Zone with inflatable games, and check out military equipment displays from the N.C. National Guard.

Support Military Families

Best of all, the Freedom Balloon Fest is dedicated to U.S. veterans and military families.

For $2, you can help fill the Field of Flags in honor of our veterans, with the goal of displaying 10,000 American flags in a special reflection area at the Zebulon fest site.

On Memorial Day, volunteer groups will transport the flags to cemeteries, military monuments and VA nursing facilities. All proceeds of flag sales go to AMVETS Service Foundation.

Bennett Bun Plantation is located at 1915 OId Bunn Road in Zebulon; Spring Forest Road Park is at 4203 Spring Forest Road in Raleigh.

For more fest info, including parking and shuttle details, see wralfreedomballoonfest.com and facebook.com/WRALFreedomBalloonFest.

Photos courtesy of Brian Hoyle.

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