Annual Labor Day balloon festival returns to Callaway Gardens

Published 9:52 am Monday, September 5, 2022

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Wind and rain may have dampened the festivities, but Callaway Gardens’ annual Labor Day weekend balloon festival still sent summer off with a bang.

Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain held its 24th annual Labor Day balloon festival over the holiday weekend. The three-day celebration kicked off on Friday with its traditional balloon glow and fireworks show.

Each year Callaway Gardens lines hot air balloons along the beach around Robin Lake for a spectacular light show. After sundown, the burners that fill the balloons with hot air are lit up periodically to produce an impressive light show to go along with nightly fireworks.

Over the weekend, in addition to swimming, biking, hiking and regular gardens activities, attendees were able to purchase tethered balloon rides for a chance to sample the experience of a hot air balloon flight. 

At times, when winds did not allow for balloon rides, Tree Top Flying Ballooning out of Mooresville, North Carolina opened up the balloons so kids could play inside.

Workers for Tree Top said that they have to be careful with wind when doing tethered rides. The rides were closed for much of the day on Saturday due to wind. 

Kids still had fun running around inside the balloon, even though it was on the ground. A large fan helped keep one of Tree Top’s smaller balloons inflated and blew around beach balls for kids to chase. The smaller balloon is still 77,000 cubic feet in volume. Some of the balloons the company uses top 100,000 cubic feet.

Danielle Peters and her son Nakia Peters enjoyed going inside the hot air balloon and learning about how it flies but were a bit disappointed with not being able to go up in the balloon at the time. Their family drove down from Newnan to enjoy the balloon festival.

The annual balloon festival serves as a summer sendoff before fall activities start.

In two weeks, evenings at the gardens will once again be aglow, this time lit by jack-o-lanterns as part of the resort’s Pumpkins at Callaway event.

New to the event this year will be the garden’s brand-new corn maze. The pumpkin patch and newly created corn maze will be available all day, but after sundown the corn maze transforms into a glowing labyrinth for not-so-spooky exploration. 

Pumpkins at Callaway will be held on weekends from Sept. 16 through Oct. 30.