The Great Reno Balloon Race Takes Flight from Northern Nevada

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Event offers complimentary access due to sponsorship support.

The iconic Dawn Patrol during the 2014 Great Reno Balloon Race.

"The Great Reno Balloon Race is the only event in the world where attendees can see a number of hot-air balloons take part in early morning shows without a cost to attend," said Executive Director Pete Copeland.

The Great Reno Balloon Race (GRBR) will take to northern Nevada’s sky with 90 hot-air balloons, including 17 special shapes, on Friday, Sept. 11 through Sunday, Sept. 13. Year-after-year, early morning spectators flock to Rancho San Rafael Regional Park to see the ethereal giants fly high above Reno’s skyline. On the ground, spectators—some adorned in pajamas—sit atop blankets or folding chairs gripping hot beverages with their heads gazing up into the sky.

“Over the last 33 years, the Great Reno Balloon Race has become an annual tradition for many families and friends,” says Executive Director Pete Copeland. “The event draws attendees from across the world to participate both in flight and as spectators. The Great Reno Balloon Race is the only event in the world where attendees can see a number of hot-air balloons take part in early morning shows without a cost associated to attend, which we’re able to accommodate due to sponsorship support.”

GRBR kicks-off at 5:15 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 11, with a Super Glow Show where upwards of 20 hot-air balloons will glow and twinkle to music across the field. Then, a special tribute to 9/11 with the Air National Guard will open Mass Ascension. A community favorite, the E.L. Cord Foundation’s tissue paper launch, in which the Washoe County School District brings 900 students to learn about hot-air balloons, takes place at 9:30 a.m.

This year, 17 special shapes will be flying at GRBR, including new balloons: Master Yoda; Neptuno; Aaron, an Elvis-tribute balloon; Norman, a dragon; Aquario, a fish bowl; Pi, an apple; Miss Bell, a replica of the Liberty Bell; Walkin’ on Air, a pair of flip flops. Returning special shapes include: Darth Vader, Smokey Bear; La Ristra, the chili peppers; Sushi; Gus T. Guppy; Wells Fargo’s Cent’re Stage; Soccer Ball, Pencil Boy and Limoncello, a lemon.

For the fan adorned in pajamas, the Biggest Little Pajama Party is back for a two-day contest. On Friday, there will be a Star Wars themed pajama contest where the winner will be up, up and away in a very special shaped balloon on Saturday. Then, on Saturday, the individual with the best pajama set will win a trip to see Taylor Swift in Dallas. Preliminary judging both Friday and Saturday starts at 7 a.m., with the finals at 7:30 a.m.

Beginning at 5:15 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 12 and Sunday, Sept. 13, the Glow Show will act as a beacon to those sleepy spectators making their way to the launch field. A trademark of GRBR, and worth the early rise, Dawn Patrol starts at 5:30 a.m. featuring a handful of hot-air balloons that are qualified to fly in the dark. The balloonist fly along to choreographed music leaving the crowd awe struck. Mass Ascension starts the day’s race at 6:45 a.m., and thrills the crowd with its multitude of vibrant colors in the early morning light.

For more information about GRBR—including Cloud 9 VIP Club, reserved VIP parking passes, volunteering and vendor opportunities—call (775) 826-1181 or visit online at

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About The Great Reno Balloon Race
The Great Reno Balloon Race (GRBR) is the world’s largest free hot-air ballooning event. The event has floated into the hearts and minds of Reno’s visitors and locals for the past 33 years. With nearly 100 balloons and 120,000+ in attendance each year, the event is a permanent fixture in Reno’s Sept. skyline. GRBR is a nonprofit organization offering free admission because of it sponsorship support. For more information and to view a complete 2015 event schedule, visit

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Ashley Brune
since: 04/2009
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