The Up Up and Away Florida Hot Air Balloon and Music Festival returns for the second year this weekend. The three-day event will be held at the Sun ‘N Fun campus in Lakeland.
“Their Sun ‘N Fun facility is just ideal to do a hot air balloon festival,” executive director Ron Clukey said.
Clukey started Up Up and Away Florida, a nonprofit organization, in 2019. The first festival was held February 2020 with an attendance close to 25,000 people.
The festival was canceled in 2021 because of the pandemic, but Clukey expects more than 35,000 people.
More people means more entertainment.
“We’re bringing in more entertainment throughout the day because hot air balloons only fly in the early morning and then the late afternoon,” Clukey said.
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The festival has expanded its entertainment for attendees. There will be tethered balloon rides, helicopter rides, a car show, live music and a kid zone.
“Besides the bands we had the first year, we’ve now brought in 10 different bands. We brought in a space adventure mini circus, where they do stilt walking, have clowns and bubble machines. They have a motorcycle cage of death as well as aerialists,” Clukey said.
The festival starts at 3 p.m. Friday with the final show, the Balloon Night Glow Show, at 8:15 p.m. Events start at 7 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday with the Balloon Night Glow Show at 8:15 p.m.
Daily tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the gate. Children 6 and younger admitted free. A family pack of four tickets is $60. Discounts are available for those with a valid ID who are active-duty and retired U.S. military, seniors and first responders. Tethered balloon rides are $20 cash only, and balloon rides with a pilot are $250 cash only. For more information or to book a balloon ride visit www.upupandawayflorida.com.