8th Annual Watermelon Days Hot Air Balloon Festival Takes to Skies In April

Published 2:18 pm Tuesday, April 2, 2024

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Back for the eighth year, Balloons will once again fill the skies over Cordele and Crisp County this Weekend!  Thirty Hot Air Balloons and their crews from all over the country will descend on Cordele April 5-6  as part of the festivities. Balloons will fill the sky over Cordele each morning starting on Friday, March 24th. On Friday and Saturday Evenings, the balloons will be at the Georgia Veterans State Park for flights over the Lake Blackshear area and will return to the park for a Hot Air Balloon Glow beginning at dusk. Tethered rides will be offered each evening at 5:00 p.m.  as well for those who want to experience the balloons first-hand but want to stay tied down to the ground.

The balloon glow or night glow can be one of the most exciting and most photographed parts of the festival. The balloons are set up at sunset in the launch area and are inflated as if they are going to take off, but instead remain static on the ground. The propane burners are lit periodically to keep the balloons inflated with hot air. Since the event occurs in near darkness, the balloons glow like huge light bulbs or Chinese lanterns, giving a spectacular display for the audience. The crowd is able to walk amongst the balloons and meet the pilots and crews, enjoy the balloons, and take some amazing photographs.

“Over the last eight years, balloons have become synonymous with Cordele, and we are always excited when they return because we get to share our great city with all of them, and they bring much needed tourism revenue with them,” said Chamber President Monica Simmons. There are crews and spectators that travel across the country from March to late October each year following the hot air balloons, as they fly in all the different festivals. It is not unusual for them to return every year to see the balloons again. “Cordele has quickly become one of more sought after locations for Hot Air Ballooning,” said balloonmeister Ben Drennan. “We have balloons coming this year from Vermont, Ohio, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, and all over the Southeast. They come because of the friendly landowners and favorable flying areas, but they come back again and again because of what Cordele has to offer.”

Crowd Favorite Special Shape Balloons will be on display at the Balloon Glows each evening as well. ‘Sunny Boy,’will be on display this year. Sunny Boy is a 140 foot tall ray of sunshine with bright eyes on one side and wears cool shades on the other.

All balloon activities are weather dependent; clear skies, no thunderstorms in the vicinity, and light winds (less than 7 knots) on the surface and calm winds above the ground. For more information about the festival you can follow the page ‘Watermelon Capital Hot Air Balloon Festival’ on Facebook. The page will be updated  each day with real time information regarding weather, launch status, and where the balloons will be flying each morning! Tethered rides as well as Hot Air Balloon Flights are available during the festival.


Balloon Launches: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday Mornings April 5-7th.

Time: Sunrise

Location: Various Locations around Cordele

Balloon launches: Saturday and Sunday Evenings March 25-26th

Time: Approx 6:00 p.m.

Location: Georgia Veterans State Park

Balloon Glows and Tethered Rides : Friday and Saturday Evenings April 5-6

Time: Tether Rides begin at 5:00 weather permitting
Balloons Start to Inflate around 7 p.m. Glow Begins at 8:00

Location: Georgia Veterans State Park

For More Information:

Social Media: Watermelon Capital Hot Air Balloon Festival on Facebook

For booking information visit Lake Blackshear Balloons www.flylakeblackshear.com

Questions and Inquiries: Cordele-Crisp Chamber of Commerce