Winthrop Balloon Festival March 2023: Book Your Flight

The Winthrop Washington Balloon Festival March 3rd – 5th 2023

Winthrop Balloon Festival
Winthrop Balloon Festival

The Winthrop Washington Balloon Festival or otherwise known as The Balloon Roundup is sure to be a blast for anyone who loves the snow and hot air balloons. If you’re looking to get away for a romantic weekend and some winter fun in a small town, this event is not to be missed. Winthrop attracts two dozen balloonists from all over Washington, Oregon, and Idaho from March 3rd through March 5th, 2023, for a hot air balloon festival in the snow! It’s hard to imagine a better time of year to visit Winthrop!

Hot air ballooning in the Winthrop Balloon Festival

Flying in the Winthrop Balloon Festival (Details)

The Winthrop Hot Air Balloon Festival (Winthrop Balloon Roundup) is a special event for many Washington State balloon pilots. Most pilots bring their families for a fun-filled weekend of ballooning, ice skating, and cross-country skiing. One of the best ways to experience nature is by hopping into a hot air balloon during the Winthrop Balloon Roundup and soaring over it. You’ll get to fly up 2500 feet in the air, and you’ll be able to see all that the beautiful Okanogan valley has to offer, including beautiful wildlife!

Book a hot air balloon flight for the Winthrop Balloon Festival

Each morning at sunrise on March 3rd, March 4th, and March 5th, 2023, hot air balloons will inflate behind the Winthrop Inn (weather permitting). After a balloon pilot briefing, the hot air balloon fans will start, and you’ll get to experience something amazing. Seeing a single hot air balloon inflate is amazing. Seeing 10-15 balloons all inflating at the same time is unbelievable. There is no way to explain the excitement. Most of the balloons at the festival are privately owned hot air balloons and do not provide passenger rides. Seattle Ballooning is the main ride operator at the Winthrop Balloon Festival and brings 4 hot air balloons. Our hot air balloons typically carry 24 guests each day between their fleet of balloons. Looking for something super romantic? Book a private flight for two!

History of the Winthrop Balloon Festival

For the past 30+ years, the small but vibrant town of Winthrop has hosted a hot air balloon festival in the heart of winter. This is one of 4 hot air balloon festivals in the Northwest and is the only winter hot air balloon festival in Washington State.

Winthrop is a cute tiny old western town with antique boardwalks, great boutiques, restaurants, luxurious to cozy overnight options, and every outdoor recreational pursuit you could wish for! Winthrop is nestled up against the pristine Okanogan National Forest. Winthrop offers something for everyone as it showcases the beauty of nature year-round. In wintertime at its finest, Winthrop is surrounded by snow-capped mountains covered in glistening white snow.

How long are the Winthrop Balloon Festival Flights

The hot air balloon flights in the Methow Valley last around an hour. All the hot air balloons launch at the Winthrop Inn and catch the valley drainage wind down to the airport (About 6 miles away). At times during the flight, we’ll fly at treetop above the river, and at other times the balloon will climb thousands of feet into the air.

Winthrop Balloon Festival – Hot Air Balloon Landing At The Winthrop Airport

How much does it cost to fly in The Winthrop Balloon Festival

Hot air balloon rides at the Winthrop Balloon Festival are $350 per person and include a post-flight champagne toast. Private flights for two-run $1750. What I can tell you is that this is an experience you’ll be talking about for years. Hot air balloon rides for the Winthrop Balloon Roundup typically sell out by December.

Book your balloon ride now

If you want a spot, you’ll want to book it as soon as possible. Many passengers book this festival 6-9 months out. There are no waitlists or last-minute cancelations. The flight meeting time is typically right around sunrise (7ish).

Schedule for the Winthrop Hot air balloon Festival 2023

Friday, March 3rd, 2023 Winthrop Balloon Festival Schedule

Hot air balloon launch | 7:00 a.m.

You’ll want to be behind the Winthrop Inn (located on Hwy 20 at the south end of Winthrop, 960 Highway 20 ). The hot air balloons will inflate at 7:00am and typically stay aloft until 9:00am. Watching the balloons and taking photos is free. Feel free to come to the balloon launch site or take photos from the ridge on Highway 20.

The best place to park is at the Methow Valley Thriftway across the street from the balloon launch field.

Book your flight here

Saturday, March 4th, 2023 Winthrop Balloon Festival Schedule

Hot air balloon launch | 7:00 a.m.

At the Winthrop Inn, balloons will turn on their inflation fans. You’ll see the beautiful colors of the balloons come to life. The balloons float South down the valley and typically land close to the Winthrop Airport. The hot air balloon typically stay in the air for right around an hour to and hour and half. All the balloons typically land by 9:00am. It’s free to check out the event and you are welcome to come to the balloon launch site for photos.

Please park cars at the Methow Valley Thriftway across the street from the balloon launch field.

Book your flight here

Winthrop Balloon Glow

Winthrop Balloon Glow | 5-6 pm. 

Head across the bridge into downtown Winthrop to watch the balloons inflate right at dusk. It’s a really cool event that the whole family will enjoy. The fire from the balloons make the multicolored fabric glow. You’ll want to come early for the Winthrop Balloon Glow as parking spots go quickly. This balloon glow is a free public and is weather permitting. Typically there are 3-4 hot air balloons that glow in this event in Downtown Winthrop.

Sunday, March 5th, 2023 Winthrop Balloon Festival Schedule
Hot air balloon launch | 7:00 a.m.

At the Winthrop Inn, the hot air balloons will inflate and launch into the crisp air. The balloons begin inflating at 7:45 am and the balloons generally stay up in the air until about 9:00 am. It’s completely free to watch the balloons launch and take photos.

Book your flight here

Hot air balloons launching at the Winthrop Balloon Festival

Best place to view hot air balloons during the Winthrop Balloon Festival

The best place to view hot air balloons during the Winthrop Balloon Festival (Winthrop Balloon Roundup) is from the sky! Don’t have the funds to jump on a flight? You can still come and watch them fly for free. The hot air balloons are scheduled to launch during each of the three mornings of this event, but if Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate, the balloons might not launch. Consider extending your stay so that no matter what happens, you can still experience this wonderful event and enjoy watching all of these colorful balloons take to the sky!

Taking the best photos at The Winthrop Balloon Festival

Hot air balloon festivals are an amazing place for amateur and professional photographers to snap some incredible photos. You can take photos during balloon inflation, balloon flight, and balloon landing. What’s amazing is that hot air balloons are nine stories tall and colorful. Basically, what we are saying is that it is very hard not to look like an amazing photographer when your subjects are this powerful. There are great locations for timelapse and landscape photography off Highway 97. You’ll get an incredible visual display to show off to all your friends!

Weather information about the Winthrop Balloon Festival

As pilots, we are committed to ensuring our guests and crew have a safe experience. Unfortunately, hot air balloons do not fly in adverse weather conditions like rain, snow, thunderstorms, or high wind. If your balloon flight is canceled for poor weather, you’ll have a few options. A refund or fly with us during the summer in front of Mt. Rainier. For the most part, we find that 2 out of the 3 flights get off the ground during the festival each year.

Final details

If you haven’t been to Winthrop Washington before, it’s a cute little mountain town that’s centered around the Methow River. It’s four and half hours from Seattle and a great place to spend an entire weekend. While you are visiting Winthrop for the Balloon Festival, you’ll find there are a ton of other outdoor winter activities! Feel free to call or chat with us on our chatbot if you have any questions or want more details about the Winthrop Balloon Roundup!

Inflating a hot air balloon at the Winthrop Hot Air Balloon Festival
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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