Looking for fun? Callaway Gardens hosting balloon festival

Published 9:30 am Saturday, September 2, 2023

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By: Olivia Johnson

Over Labor Day weekend, the skies will be illuminated with color as Callaway Resort and Gardens celebrates the 25th anniversary of its Balloon Festival.

“We are very excited this weekend to celebrate the 25th anniversary of our hot air balloon festival during Labor Day weekend. This entire weekend, we’re giving a final salute to summer in a big way for family and friends to enjoy,” said Rachael McConnell, marketing manager for Callaway Gardens.

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The farewell-to-summer tradition marks its silver anniversary with three days and evenings of family entertainment. In addition to Callaway’s usual attractions, there will be tethered hot air balloon rides, live music, a classic car show, a dog show, lakeside activities, water sports, and a nightly “glow” event, featuring more balloons than ever before lighting up to music around Callaway’s Robin Lake Beach. The grand finale will be a fireworks display.

Dan Stukas will make his debut as the balloon meister, overseeing the balloon pilots and their support teams to ensure they meet Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requirements.  As an expert balloonist who has won multiple balloon races and flown on three continents, Stukas has previously flown as a participating pilot at Callaway’s event.

Stukas has over 50 years of experience in ballooning, competing in races, serving as a balloon meister and working as a safety officer.

“The Hot Air Balloon Glow is a one-of-a-kind Georgia and Callaway tradition, thrilling multiple generations since 1998,” Clarissa Chaudoin, marketing director, Callaway Resort and Gardens, said. “This year, we’re honored Dan Stukas is our balloon meister, conducting more balloons than we’ve ever had before as they perform a synchronized dance to a new 25th anniversary musical score.”

McConnell mentioned that the event will feature 24 different balloons, the most in the event’s history.

“Celebrating 25 years goes to show that Callaway is a place where people can continue to create memories that are worth repeating with their friends and family,” McConnell said. “There’s so much joy that you can see when families that have come to this for years and years, and they’re bringing their new grandbabies or friends and family. Callaway is a very special place where people can come celebrate together, and we hope to continue the tradition.”

McConnell encourages people and families to come spend Labor Day weekend at Callaway Gardens.

“This is such a unique event apart from anything else that we do. It’s so much larger than life and the fact that we have 24 different balloons that are 80 to 100 feet tall … it provides such a unique experience and it’s something that people don’t want to miss out on,” McConnell said.

For more information on the Callaway Resort and Gardens Hot Air Balloon Glow and to purchase tickets, please visit callawaygardens.com.