What's on Tap

What's on Tap

Parking expected to be smoother for this year's WRAL Freedom Balloon Fest

Posted May 24
Updated May 27

— In its second year, WRAL Freedom Balloon Fest is moving to a new location and adding more entertainment. Organizers also say they have come up with a solution to the parking and shuttle issues that caused a lot of frustration for festival-goers last year.

Paying and Parking

While admission to the festival is free, festival-goers will need to pay $10 per car to park. Depending on which direction you are coming from, cars will be directed to one of four lots. There is no parking on site.

You will need to pay to ride a shuttle to Fleming Loop Park in Fuquay-Varina - the site of this year's event. Riding the shuttle is $5 for adults, $3 for children (2-12 years old) and infants ride for free.

A portion of the parking proceeds help support a variety of military organizations and charities including AMVETS Service Foundation, US Veterans Corp and MMIA.

Coming from Raleigh, Garner & Clayton

Set your GPS for 2321 N. Main St., Fuquay-Varina

Lot Open:
Friday, May 27 - 2 to 10:30 p.m. 
Saturday, May 28 - 5:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.;
Sunday, May 29 - 5:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Coming from Fayetteville & Lillington

Set your GPS for 1205 Wagstaff Road, Fuquay-Varina

Lot Open:
Friday, May 27 - 2 to 10:30 p.m. 
Saturday, May 28 - 5:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.;
Sunday, May 29 - 5:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Coming from Holly Springs & Apex

Set GPS for 1460 N. Broad St., Fuquay-Varina

Lot Open:
Friday, May 27 - 2 to 10:30 p.m. 
Saturday, May 28 - 5:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.;
Sunday, May 29 - 5:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Coming from Sanford

Set GPS for 1524 W. Academy St., Fuquay-Varina

Friday, May 27 - 2 to 10:30 p.m. 
Saturday, May 28 - 5:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.;
Sunday, May 29 - 1 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

The shuttle will drop you off about 1,300 feet from the venue's main entrance.

Best times to see balloons in the air

Friday through Sunday nights there will be mass ascensions of balloons around 6:30 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 early and follow social media to find out if balloons are taking to the skies.

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 and live music hits the stage at 1 p.m. and continues until 10:30 p.m.

Explore Fuquay-Varina

‚ÄčTo explore the local shops and merchants, hop on and off one of two trams which will run all day. The "Fuquay Tram" serves the downtown area with a main pick up/drop off point at Centennial Park at the intersection of Main and Academy. The "Varina Shuttle" has a main pickup/drop off point near Draft Line Brewing on Broad Street.

If you parked in one of the park-and-ride lots, your wristband will allow you to take the Fuquay Tram and/or Varina Shuttle for free! If you walked to the event you can hop on for $5 and ride all day.

Get more details about WRAL Freedom Balloon Fest

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