Hot air will rise in colorful fashion at Snowmass festival |

Hot air will rise in colorful fashion at Snowmass festival

Aspen Times Staff Report

The 24th annual Snowmass Balloon Festival will kick off the summer season in Snowmass Village this weekend.

The colorful, three-day festival, which annually draws more than 8,000 spectators, features a different competitive event each day. Also on tap are tethered balloon rides for children and a new, spectacular night event.

A long-distance event called the Colorado Rat Race begins at 5:45 a.m. Friday, at Buttermilk ski area. Balloonists participating in the Rat Race will float down the Roaring Fork Valley toward Glenwood Springs. The balloon crew that goes the farthest wins.

Saturday’s event is the Don Quixote competition. In this competition, balloonists will launch at 6:30 a.m. from the baseball field and attempt to burst more helium balloons than the other crews, with “lances” made of broomsticks with nails in the end.

The final event is Target Tubing. The balloonists again launch from the baseball field for this competition, with a 6:30 a.m. start. Balloonists will skim the surface of ponds on the Snowmass golf course while attempting to throw tennis balls into the center of floating inner tubes.

This year’s new addition to the activities, the Night Glow event, will begin Saturday evening at 9 p.m. at the Snowmass Village baseball diamond. Music will accompany the sight of balloons glowing with the inner flames of their propane burners.

Rides in tethered balloons will be offered at 8 p.m., before the Night Glow event on Saturday, and both Saturday and Sunday morning at 7:30 a.m.

Also on Saturday and Sunday, immediately following the festival events, spectators are invited to the Snowmass Mall for the “Taste of Snowmass Brunch.” Clowns and face painters will entertain children, while adults browse the mall and taste a variety of brunch items served outdoors on the mall. Live music will be provided by Jazz Collective.

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