The Northwest Art and Air Festival officially began in 2000, although organized balloon rallies had been going on in Albany for many years before that. The event is sponsored by the City of Albany and organized by members of the Parks and Recreation Department. The festival is the city's signature event of the summer, and includes hot air balloon launches each morning, a Night Glow on Friday night, a main stage concert on Saturday night, a car show, as well as food and artist booths and other entertainment all weekend long. The event is usually held on the 4th weekend in August.
The festival takes place at Timber Linn Park in Albany, just east of the freeway and the airport. Take exit 233 from I-5 and head east and turn left on Price Rd.
Balloons are launched each morning of the event from the soccer fields at the south end of the park, nearest to Hwy 20.
Just north of the launch field is a large gravel parking lot, east of Price Rd. This is where you should park on the morning of your flight.
A hot air balloon ride is a beautiful, peaceful and enjoyable experience. Balloon flights take place at sunrise because that is when conditions are the best. At the time of the event, this means around 6:30 a.m. You will arrive and check in up to an hour before that. You will then be assigned to your pilot. Most passengers, if they are able, get a chance to help with the setup and inflation of the balloon. This takes about 30 minutes. It is easy, fun, and amazing to watch up close. The flights will range between 45-90 minutes at which point the pilot will find a suitable field to land in. The passengers and crew then spend another 30 minutes packing the balloon back up. Then it is back to the launch field where most pilots offer a post-flight ceremony or toast, especially if it is your first time flight. Plan on being finished between 9 and 10 a.m.
Safety is a primary concern for all balloon operations, therefore proper attire is important. The general rule is to limit the amount of exposed skin and wear natural fibers (cotton is good, polyester is bad). Wear tennis shoes or hiking boots, not open toed sandals or flip flops. We cannot guarantee the condition of your landing zone. Also, some pilots like to attempt splash 'n dashes in lakes or ponds, so wear shoes you don't mind getting wet. Long pants and long sleeves are recommended and dress in layers. It will be quite cold at the beginning but warm up as the morning goes on. A jacket and/or sweatshirt that can be removed later is a good idea.
If your business receives balloon rides as part of your sponsorship package, you will be notified via email. You will receive a 'ride code' to use in order to sign up. Once you have received your code and determined who your passengers are going to be, you may click the 'sign up' link below to register for your ride. All sponsors must submit their passenger information by July 31 in order to receive their rides.
Paid rides at the event are available for $250 per person. Passengers wishing to ride together must sign up at the same time as a 'group'. After signing up on the website, you will then need to submit payment to the City of Albany Parks and Rec Department within 2 weeks or by August 15th (whichever is sooner) or your ride request will become void.
After signing up for a paid ride, you will receive an invoice to print out. Submit your payment by check or money order with a copy of the invoice by mail or in person to Albany Parks & Recreation, P.O. Box 490, Albany, OR 97321. Payment can also be made by credit card (Mastercard or Visa only) in person or by calling 541-917-7765.
In order to receive a ride at the event, whether sponsored or paid, riders must be at least 12 years old.
A critical factor in the safety and planning of a hot air balloon flight is knowing the exact weight being lifted by the balloon. Please be accurate when filling in your weight on the sign up form. Your information will be handled discretely but is vital to the scheduling of your flight. Unless receiving special approval from the balloonmeister, the maximum weight limits are 300 pounds per person and 600 pounds per group.
In order to receive a ride at the event, you must be able to climb in and out of the balloon basket with minimal assistance. You must also be able to stand for the duration of the flight. We do not have any balloons that can accommodate wheelchairs or passengers that need to be seated. Pregnant women will be allowed to ride as long as they are physically able and are less then 28 weeks along.
When you sign up to ride, you must sign up with any other passengers you wish to ride with. Ride groups can be a maximum of 3 people (weight limits also apply). Ride groups apply to sponsors and paid passengers. Sponsors wishing to add additional paid passengers to their sponsored ride groups may do so.
All balloon flights take place at sunrise because that is when conditions are the best. Check in time for all passengers will be between 5:15 a.m. and 5:45 a.m. each morning. If you do not check in by 6 a.m., you may forfeit your flight.
Thursday morning before the festival is Public Relations Day. This gives reporters and photographers a chance to get pictures and stories about the event circulating ahead of time. Although it is on a limited basis, some rides can be scheduled on this day, based on availability. If you are only available on Thursday, you may indicate that when you sign up.
Balloon rides are scheduled based on several factors, and due to a limited number of rides, it is not possible for every rider to have their first request. If you need to cancel your paid ride, you will receive a full refund if cancelled by 4:00 PM the Friday prior to the festival. Riders must contact Albany Parks & Recreation at 541-917-7765 to cancel a ride. Any paid rides cancelled after 4:00 PM the Friday prior to the event or any no-shows on your scheduled morning will not receive a refund. If an approved replacement rider is found a refund will be issued. If a balloon ride is cancelled by event staff due to weather, a refund will be issued or the ride re-scheduled if possible.
If you have any further questions about rides, or have any trouble signing up on the website, please call 541-917-7765.