A MIX OF COLORFUL patterns will dot the sky over
the Howard County Fairgrounds, just west of Baltimore,
during the Preakness Balloon Festival from May 11 to
13. The hot-air balloon festival is held the weekend
before the Preakness Stakes thoroughbred horse race at
Baltimore’s Pimlico Race Course.
The ;rst two days of the festival include live music
and food vendors, and views of more than 15 giant,
vibrant balloons, some of which are tethered to the
ground from varying heights, while others are in ;ight.
After dusk, the balloons glow in the sky, illuminated by
their propane burners.
Visitors can watch or sign up ahead of time to
compete in the Nathan’s hot dog-eating contest on
Saturday, May 12, at 5 p.m. The winner will qualify for
the Fourth of July contest in Coney Island, New York.
Balloon rides can be booked for certain times during
the festival ($250 per person gets you a half hour to an
hour of ;ight time, or it’s $20 for a ;ve-minute tethered
ride; visit the website for reservations).
The Preakness Balloon Festival is May 11, 6: 15 to
9 a.m. media balloon tethering (open to public viewing),
4 to 9 p.m. festival; May 12, 6: 15 to 9 a.m. balloon
rides, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. festival; May 13, 6: 15 to 7: 45
a.m. balloon rides. Admission is free; parking is $20.
2210 Fairgrounds Road, West Friendship, Maryland,
—Amanda Perelli P H O T
art. festivals. culture. day trips. hidden gems.