Frequently Asked Questions
General Event Questions
What is the cost to attend the GFPBR?
The GFPBR is the oldest and largest FREE balloon event in the country. There is no cost for admission into the Balloon Glow or Balloon Race. Concessions, souvenirs and certain special activities will be available for purchase.
Can I bring my own cooler and picnic?
Is there food and drink available to purchase at the event?
Food and beverages are available to purchase at the event. You may also bring your own refreshments. Please remember NO open flames or cooking appliances. Soft-sided coolers and cans are preferred (NO glass, please!) and viewing on Art Hill is best from a blanket or low-profile folding chairs.
What are the start and end times of the event?
Check out our schedule page for details!
How is the winner of the race determined?
The Great Forest Park Balloon Race presented by PNC is a Hare and Hound-style race.
“Orange Blossom”, The PNC Bank hot air balloon is the “Hare” and leads the pack, launching and landing first. Once “Orange Blossom” lands, the team lays an “X” out on the ground as a target. The other “Hound” balloons launch in pursuit and the pilot who drops his birdseed/bean bag nearest the center of the target is the winner!
Will there be ATMs available at the event?
Yes, we will have ATMS on-site throughout the event – most often near our beverage concession areas.
Are pets allowed?
Yes, pets may join you at the event as long as they attend on a non-retractable leash. Please take into considerations your pet’s comfort level with large crowds, heat and loud noise before you bring them along for the fun.
What is a balloon glow?
On Friday evening at dusk into the evening, the pilots inflate their balloons and blast the propane burners, which releases a burst of fire into the balloon. The balloons “glow” like huge fireflies, a truly magical scene, and one not to be missed! The balloons do not launch during the balloon glow but for a portion of the evening the rope line will be released and spectators will be invites to walk around to enjoy the view and chat with pilots and crew.
What time will the balloons launch?
Check out our schedule page for details! Our Skydivers will join us on the launch field at approximately 3:00 pm followed by Opening Ceremonies on the Maryville University Main Stage. The more than 60 hot air balloons are scheduled to start inflating and ascending around 4 or 4:30 pm. PLEASE NOTE: This is an approximate time as in some wind conditions, the pilots will wait until the wind calm before ascension.
How close can I get to the balloons?
Friday night’s GLOW event will offer a special opportunity for spectators to get up close to the balloons and their pilots and crew. During a portion of the evening the rope line is released allowing attendees to enjoy the view, take photos and meet our world-class pilots!
On Saturday, RACE DAY, according to FAA regulations pilots, race crew and event coordinators are the only people allowed on the race “field”. But no need to worry, spectators at the event will be permitted just behind our rope line – close enough to see the action.
What other activities are there at the GFPBR?
Our Main Stage, will feature local bands. Keep a look out for the Skydivers who land around 3:00 to mark the start of balloon inflation! There will also be a Purina Children’s area featuring performances by the Purina Pro Plan Performance Team and accompanied by a wide variety of games, inflatables and activities like the PNC Bank Mobile Learning Adventure, special experiences from Children’s Hospital and much more!
Where do the balloons land?
The balloons land in different areas every year depending on which way the wind is blowing. In the past, balloons have landed in all corners of the St. Louis metropolitan area and surrounding communities. You never know when a balloon might land on your street or a parking lot near your home!
Can I purchase a hot air balloon ride?
Balloon rides are not available to the public during The Great Forest Park Balloon Race presented by PNC – but feel free to contact one of our amazing private pilots after the event about purchasing a personal ride at another point throughout the year.
Is GFPBR on social media?
Yes! We would love for you to connect with us for the latest event news, activity features and some pretty spectacular photos from years past! On Instagram, we are @GFPBR. On Facebook, please follow “Great Forest Park Balloon Race”. Don’t miss our tweets at @GFPBalloonRace.
Transportation, Parking and Accessibility
Where should we park if we drive to the GFPBR?
Free parking is available on all streets not closed for the race. Parking lots within Forest Park will also be open for public parking. Please see our parking map for street closures.
Are there public transportation options for getting to the GFPBR?
The nearest Metrolink station for Forest Park is the DeBaliviere station. There is also a station at Skinker. Taxi and rideshare options (i.e. Lyft) also are widely available in the St. Louis area. We recommend using our designated drop off/ pick up area for rideshare (see map near the Missouri History Museum along Lindell Blvd.) for ease of entry and directions.
Is there an ADA accessible viewing area?
YES! More details and maps TBA
Is there ADA Accessible parking available?
YES! More details and maps TBA
Where will ADA Accessible restrooms be located at the event?
YES! Anywhere portable restrooms are located at the GFPBR will include ADA Accessible units. CHECK OUT OUR EVENT MAP TO SCOPE OUT RESTROOM LOCATIONS IN ADVANCE
Are service animals allowed?
Service animals are allowed provided they are on a non-retractable leash.
Is smoking allowed?
Smoking is STRICTLY forbidden on the grounds of the GFPBR. Due to the open flames of the balloons and potential pockets of propane in the air, smoking could be extremely dangerous for pilots, crew, and spectators.
What happens to the GFPBR in the event of bad weather?
Safety is our number one priority for both pilots and spectators of the event. Every effort is made to reasonably carry on with the event in spite of cold or hot weather. High winds can delay balloon ascension and the GFPBR leaves the decision to launch up to each individual pilot. The balloon race has only been cancelled twice due to rain since its inception in 1973.
Will the balloons take off in high winds?
High winds can delay or cancel the ascension of the balloons. Each pilot is uniquely qualified to make the determination whether they feel comfortable flying in gustier winds.
Can I fly a drone at the race?
Due to Federal Aviation Association rules no drones or any other flying objects can be flown within the airspace of the balloons on race day. This rule is put into place for the safety of the balloonists and spectators. For more information on drone regulations visit https://www.faa.gov/uas/where_to_fly/airspace_restrictions/.