Glowing Hot Air Balloons Will Light Up the Sky at This New Festival in New Orleans

It’s not your average hot air balloon festival.

New Orleans Hot Air Balloon Glow and Laser Show
Photo courtesy of Hot Air Balloon Management
Photo courtesy of Hot Air Balloon Management

Looking to take a break from Mardi Gras madness before Carnival season really kicks into high gear? Experience the thrill of a hot air balloon ride as NOLA Motorsports Park hosts its inaugural Balloon Glow and Laser Show on January 19 and 20.

In a first-of-its-kind event for the area, locals will be able to take to the skies during this family-friendly party, which starts both days at 5 pm and culminates with the headlining attraction: a hot air balloon glow and laser show at 9 pm. After the crowd joins in unison for a countdown, the colorful balloons will light up and take flight glowing into the night sky. With a lively soundtrack and synchronized display of balloon burns and lasers—creating a memorable “glow” effect—the spectacle is a surefire way to light up your social feed.

"New Orleans locals have shown us they're craving more large-scale events, which is why we wanted to host this festival," says David Pace, general manager of NOLA Motorsports Park. "We've got this great big property just 20 minutes from New Orleans where folks can come escape the city bustle for a day and ride a hot air balloon or shop their favorite craft vendor.”

Tethered hot air balloon rides will be offered during the event for $25 per person, subject to weather and availability. Local food vendors will be whipping up a range of festival-style treats such as funnel cakes and barbecue, and a mix of craft and retail vendors will be on hand selling unique wares.

New Orleans Hot Air Balloon Glow and Laser Show
Photo courtesy of Hot Air Balloon Management

A dedicated kids zone will feature games and rides like trains, bounce houses, and rock climbing, while a variety of artists—including Dj Bambam Belonge—will provide live entertainment throughout the event.

Located in Avondale, the 30-acre facility—which hosts national motorsports races as well as seasonal activations like Zombie Paintball during Halloween—has been the premier racing venue in the greater New Orleans area since it debuted in 2012. There’s an adrenaline-fueled karting facility, a 16-turn road course, and a 32,000-square-foot event center.

Capacity is limited, and the venue suggests securing tickets in advance. General admission starts at $10 for children and $20 for adults, with VIP packages available. New Orleans residents can visit the ticket link here and receive a special discount with promo code NOLA5 for $5 off adult tickets. Guests are encouraged to bring blankets and chairs for comfortable viewing.

For those who want to make an entire day out of the celebration, NOLA Motorsports Park will be open during regular hours on both January 19 and 20, with axe-throwing and karting available each day from noon to 8 pm. (Pricing starts at $20 for each activity.) On-site parking is free—check out the official website for additional details. If you’re making a weekend of it, we’ve got you covered with some of the best places to stay in the Crescent City.

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Eric Grossman is a Thrillist contributor.