2023 Great Galena Balloon Race

The 2023 Great Galena Balloon Race is just around the corner and the excitement is building. The popular event, held every year on the 3rd weekend in June, welcomes summer to the region with a race featuring over 20 hot air balloons, and a host of other attractions. Don’t miss out! June 16th to the 18th, 2023 in Galena, IL.

The annual hot air balloon race has been a Galena tradition since 2002, and all for a good cause. The event has raised more than $350,000 for childhood diabetes over the years and shows no signs of slowing down any time soon. And why should it? The 3-day event is very popular and includes a host of fun, family-friendly attractions. Balloon rides, balloon nightglows, a classic car show, an art show and sale, food, drink, and great live music.

Of course, the big attraction is all those colorful hot air balloons! Just seeing one up in the sky is fun enough but 20 all at once? The effect is entrancing and can be more than a little surreal. Especially if you get a chance to see them in the dark during a dawn launch or nightglow show. Seeing these huge, colorful balloons lit from within and glowing as they hang in the dark sky is truly stunning to behold.

The Great Galena Balloon Race offers 3 days of hot air balloon fun with balloon races, rides, and nightglows. This year’s schedule includes one evening race on Friday and two “crack of dawn” races on Saturday and Sunday. 5am is awfully early to get up, we agree but catching the sunrise with the launch of these beautiful balloons is absolutely worth it.

Classic Car Show at the 2023 Great Galena Balloon Race
Don’t miss Saturday’s Classic Car Show!

Hot Air Balloons and More

You’d think a hot air balloon race would be more than enough attraction for anybody, and it is but that’s not all you’ll see at the Great Galena Balloon Race!

Special events include the 2023 Great Galena Art Sale, held Saturday, from 5pm to 9pm in the big tent. This sale features a variety of artworks from some of the area’s very best regional artists. Come to look, shop, meet and chat with the artists, or all three!

Gearheads will not want to miss the Classic Car Show and its collection of beautiful classic cars, held Saturday night at 6pm. The event is hosted by three of the region’s car clubs and is always a good time.

The event also includes live music, beginning 5:30 pm on Friday and Saturday night. Don’t worry about going hungry or thirsty, either. A selection of food and drink will be available for purchase, including burgers, hot dogs, tacos, soft-drinks, beer, wine, and more.

Best of all, the race and all related events take place at Eagle Ridge Resort, located at 400 Eagle Ridge Drive, just a little over ten minutes from our Galena bed and breakfast, Hawk Valley Retreat.

Great Galena Balloon Race 2023

Spend some time enjoying the fun and beautiful balloons at the show, then it’s an easy drive back to your room at Hawk Valley Retreat. What a great time!

Great Galena Balloon Race 2023 Schedule

Friday, June 16
5pm – Gates open
5pm-9pm – Inflatables for the kids
5:30pm – Live music: The Wundo Band
6:00pm – Hot Air Balloon Race Begins
8:30pm – Hot Air Balloon Nightglow
10pm – Gates Close

Nightglow at 2023 Great Galena Balloon Race
Hot air balloons all aglow at dawn.

Saturday, June 17
5am – Crack of Dawn Balloon Race
5pm – Gates open
5pm-9pm – Great Galena Art Sale, Inflatables for the kids
5:30pm – Live music: TBA
6pm – Classic Car Show
6pm – Hot Air Balloons Fly
8:30pm – Hot Air Balloon Nightglow
10pm – Gates Close

Sunday, June 18
5am – Crack of Dawn Balloon Race

Admission to this event is $5, cash only, with proceeds going to support children with diabetes. Visit the event website for tickets and more information. You can also find this event on Facebook.