Walla Walla Balloon Stampede

Walla Walla Balloon Stampede Mother’s Day Weekend 2023 Book Now!

The Walla Walla Balloon Stampede returns to Mother’s Day Weekend to celebrate its 50th year.  It is actually the 3rd oldest hot air balloon event in the US. The Walla Walla hot air balloon festival attracts over two dozen hot air balloon pilots from around the Pacific Northwest.  In the last few years the festival has taken place in Mid-October but this year is moving back to the weekend of May 12th. Whether you are on the ground watching the balloons or in the air, it’s always amazing when 20-plus hot air balloons launch together.  The Walla Walla Balloon Stampede is a great event for families, children, and the entire community. The hot air balloon festival takes place over the weekend and has a few different types of events.

Walla Walla Balloon Festival
Hot air ballooning Walla Walla Washington

Hot Air Ballooning Rides In Walla Walla Washington

Seattle Ballooning has multiple balloons flying daily in Walla Walla in the spring and fall.  Flights start in mid-April! Flying in a hot air balloon over Walla Walla is an incredible experience. With multiple vineyard launch locations, you’ll have an incredible experience. You’ll fly feet above the grape vines and experience Walla Walla’s most famous wineries from above. From altitude, you’ll see endless golden wheat fields. It’s an easy choice to book a reservation to fly during the week of the Walla Walla hot air balloon festival.

Whether you have hot air ballooning on your bucket list, want a romantic experience in the sky, or just want to have a new experience with friends, Seattle Ballooning has you covered! Seattle Ballooning provides hot air balloon rides during the Walla Walla Balloon festival weekend at both sunrise and sunset.

walla walla wineries
Flying over Yellow Hawk Winery in Walla Walla Washington

Instead of taking off from Howard Tietan Park in the center of the city of Walla Walla, Seattle Ballooning start further South near the wineries.  These Southern launch locations allow guests to see the world-renowned Washington vineyards and get a flight time of 60 minutes.  As Seattle Ballooning’s experienced commercial hot air balloon pilots fly over Howard Tietan Park, the additional 20+ balloons will launch.  It’s an incredible experience. Seattle Ballooning provides hot air balloon rides in the morning and also sunset hot air balloon flights.  The sunset Walla Walla balloon ride is a great option for folks who aren’t early risers.  Delicious champagne and local treats are served after all hot air balloon flights.

Balloons launching walla walla washignton
Balloons launching Walla Walla Washington during the Walla Walla Balloon Stampede

Watching The Hot Air Balloons

If you don’t want to fly in a hot air balloon during the Walla Walla Balloon Stampede weekend, your best option is to visit the mass ascension at sunrise.  The 9-story tall hot air balloons inflate around 7:15 am, about 20 minutes after sunrise, filling Howard Tietan Park with a sea of colors.  Although the winds are different each day, the typical flight path takes the balloons North over Downtown Walla Walla to the wheat fields or the Walla Walla airport.

Walla Walla hot air balloon rides
Hot air balloon rides in Walla Walla Washington

Walla Walla Stampede Hot Air Balloon Glow

It’s not yet confirmed if the balloon glow is on Friday or Sat of Mother’s Day weekend. When it is confirmed you’ll want to add it to your calendar, as you won’t want to miss the evening hot air balloon glow.  Hot air balloon glows are a beloved tradition.  Multiple hot air balloons inflate at Howard Tietan Park just prior to sunset and use their burners to put on a colorful light show. When hot air balloon pilots squeeze their blast valves, the fabric gets illuminated and glows.  The balloon pilots often illuminate their balloons at the same time or in waves giving guests an incredible photo opportunity.  This is also a great time to learn more about ballooning and connect with the local balloon pilots.  You are welcome to walk up to the balloons and ask questions.  We’ll answer your most common questions right here!

Balloon glow
Walla Walla Balloon Stampede Glow

Will the balloon leave the ground during the Walla Walla Stampede Balloon Glow?

Nope.  Balloons do not leave the ground during balloon glow events.  In order for balloons to fly at night, they need special lights, a full moon, and an area without any powerlines.  

Can You Book A Ride During The Walla Walla Balloon Festival?

Yes!  Spots are very limited and fill up quickly. Although Seattle Ballooning is not directly associated with the festival, Seattle Ballooning and the Walla Walla Balloon Stampede share the same airspace and fly next to each other. Seattle Ballooning provides both shared and private hot air balloon rides during the week of the Walla Walla Balloon Stampede as well as daily flights in April, May, Sept, and Oct.  Both are great options!

How Long Is The Balloon Ride During The Walla Walla Balloon Stampede?

It really depends on the wind. If the wind is slow and in a good direction, balloons launching from Howard Tietan Park can fly up to an hour. Due to the location of Howard Tietan Park, sometimes the wind direction and speed make balloon flight short or not possible. As Seattle Ballooning has many different places to launch from and isn’t required to launch from a single location, there is a plethora of opportunities to fly. Seattle Ballooning has multiple launch locations all over the valley, including South of Downtown Walla Walla. This allows for 60 minutes of flying at altitude. If there is a day during the festival that the Stampede balloons need a launch location further South, Seattle Ballooning’s pilots are always happy to have them join if they are in need.

Why Don’t The Commercial Balloon Ride Companies Fly From Howard Tietan Park During The Balloon Stampede?

The Walla Walla Balloon Stampede doesn’t allow commercial ride operators to fly from the field or be part of the festivities. That being the case, we share the airspace and fly next to each other during the week of the balloon festival. We aren’t sure why the festival operators don’t want to work with the local commercial pilots. It would be fun to all launch together from the exact same location!

Commercial balloon rides have a different goal than the private balloon pilots at the Walla Walla Balloon Stampede.  The goal of the Balloon Stampede is to fill the air will beautiful balloons with no minimum or maximum time of being in the air.  Some pilots land after 20 minutes, and others fly for around an hour depending on the speed and direction of the wind.  Seattle Ballooning’s commercial hot air balloon rides typically last around an hour, which often requires launching from different locations around Walla Walla based on the winds that day.  

Covid-19 Concerns And The Walla Walla Balloon Stampede?

The Stampede was canceled in 2020 and 2021 for concerns around covid. The good news is the stampede is back! Seattle Ballooning has always been committed to the safety of its pilots and guests. Our pilots and crew are all vaccinated. Although hot air ballooning is an outdoor experience, it is not possible to social distance on any type of aircraft. Guests can choose to wear a mask or not during the activity itself. 

What Is The Walla Walla Balloon Stampede Schedule

The Walla Walla Balloon Stampede runs from May 10th-14th 2023 and has different activities by day. Mass ascensions take place on the 11th, 12th, 13th, and 14th around 7:15 am. The event provides rides for kid’s day on May 10th- providing tethered rides up to 100 feet! May 11th is preserved for media day to promote the event to the public. Weather is always a consideration, as hot air balloons do not fly in poor or marginal conditions. If the balloon festival cancels flights from Howard Tietan field, it is because the wind speed and direction aren’t great, or there is some type of poor weather on the way. Seattle Ballooning has multiple launch locations around the Walla Walla Valley, allowing them to have different options around launching. So, if you see balloons in the air on a day when the Stampede cancels, it just means that they had a launch location that was appropriate for the wind that day. Seattle Ballooning as a commercial operator, do not fly in poor or marginal conditions.

Seattle Ballooning is always happy to have other balloons that are part of the festival join them from other launch locations if the wind is not appropriate to launch from the main field of the Walla Walla Balloon Stampede (Howard Tietan Park).

Other Fun Things To Do In Walla Walla

We’ve created an awesome list of fun things to do in Walla Walla. It includes our favorite restaurant recommendations, wineries, and touristy things to do in the Walla Walla area.

Hot Air Balloon Pilot Eliav C.
About the Author

Chief pilot of Seattle Ballooning. I get the opportunity to provide luxury hot air balloon rides just South of Seattle in front of Mt. Rainier. When you do what you love, it’s not considered work.

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