What's on Tap

What's on Tap

Plan to park and walk to WRAL Freedom Balloon Fest

Posted May 22
Updated May 26

— In its third year, WRAL Freedom Balloon Fest will be changing up its parking options.

The festival, which will be held at Fleming Loop Park Friday through Monday, will not be offering official parking lots or shuttle transportation to the venue.

Instead, festival organizers are providing a list of nearby private and public lots (some handicap accessible). While some parking is free, some private lots are charging $10 to $20 per car. Those proceeds do not go to the festival.

Even the closest parking lot can be up to a half mile from the entrance, so plan accordingly.

Admission to the festival remains free this year.

Free public parking lots and on-street parking as listed by the Town of Fuquay-Varina are shown in blue. Orange listings are Paid lots. Yellow lots require a permit in advance. Other details in the table below. Provided for information purposes only.

Best times to see balloons in the air

Friday through Sunday nights there will be mass ascensions of balloons after 6 p.m., followed by tethered rides and balloon glows.

On Saturday through Monday mornings, hot air balloon pilots will be competing (weather permitting). This could contain flying into or out of the venue and dropping something on a target. Competition flights will start around 6 a.m. and wrap up by 9 a.m. So if you want to watch, arrive by 6 a.m. and follow social media to find out if balloons are taking to the skies.

You can stay up to date on when balloons are taking to the air and any schedule changes through the festival's new app, Project Uplift USA. It is free on available on the iTunes App Store and on Google Play.

Want to take a ride

Tethered balloon rides are being offered each evening. The balloon is anchored to the ground limiting the rides to 30 to 40 feet in the air. Like all balloon flights, tethered rides are conducted wind and weather permitting. It costs $20 per ride and is cash only.

Get more information on tethered rides.

What else is happening

When balloons aren't in the area, there are still things to do at Fleming Loop Park. There will be a merchant and craft village and vintage amusement park rides (bring money to ride). On Saturday and Sunday, the craft beer and wine garden will open at noon. Live music starts at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday and around 11 a.m. Sunday.

Get more details about WRAL Freedom Balloon Fest


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  • Kathy McCreary May 26, 3:09 p.m.
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    Just a reminder: Coolers and pets are not allowed at WRAL Freedom Balloon Fest.

  • Duane Watson May 25, 10:44 p.m.
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    They didn't think about the people carrying chairs or coolers. I attended last year and the buses were a big plus in my book.