Labor Day Lift Off in Colorado Springs Returns to Memorial Park

August 25, 2017

We’re a week away from one of Colorado Springs’ favorite traditions, the Labor Day Lift Off! More than 70 different hot air balloons will converge upon Memorial Park over Labor Day weekend for a colorful, gravity defying festival of fun. It’s three days packed with music, food and activities that brings the community together—and you won’t want to miss out on a minute of it. We’ve got the details on what to do and how to do it stress-free. Check it out!

Labor Day Lift Off: The Balloons

While there is a lot to do while you’re at the festival, the main reason to be there is the multitude of cool hot air balloons, right? There are two different ways to see them.

Lift Off: Get to Memorial Park bright and early (6:30 a.m.) to catch the balloons as they launch each morning between 7-9 a.m. If you’re of an adventurous mindset (and have some money to throw around), you can hitch a ride for $275 per person plus a $10 booking fee. You’ll have to be there at 6 a.m. to ride. But if that’s too pricey, remember that watching the balloons take off is totally free. Dress in layers to survive as the morning chill turns to hot weather.

If you’re wondering why you have to get up so dang early to see the show, here’s a little hot air balloon knowledge. The reason launches happen largely during the early morning or early evening is twofold. First, those times of day offer lighter wind conditions, and since balloons aren’t exactly geared for precision steering, that’s pretty important. Second, early/later flight times help balloonists avoid issues caused by the ground heating up (thermals) which makes the balloon difficult to control and can even cause it to sink. Safety first!

Balloon Glow: Say you’re not of the early-to-rise set. Don’t worry! There’s a balloon event for night owls, too. Head over to the park around 7:30 p.m. to watch as the balloons are once again filled (although they won’t be flying). Since hot air balloons float when burners ignite liquid propane, you’ll be treated to a field of glow and color against the darkening evening sky. Don’t skip the festivities if it’s windy. While the balloons may not go up, the balloonists still light their burners (which is its own neat effect) and the live music and vendors will be there to entertain.

Vendors, Music and Food

While the balloons themselves are pretty rad, there are other exciting activities. On Saturday and Sunday mornings, you can register for a donut eating contest and scarf your way to a cash prize. If you prefer more than two minutes to eat your meal, there will be vendors in the park selling tasty street food fare that you won’t have to swallow whole all day long. Or, for a healthier option, you can head over to the lake where there will be paddle board rentals, yoga sessions and wake/surf competitions all day. On Saturday and Sunday evenings, live music will accompany the glow and you can watch skydiving or a chainsaw demonstrations (not in the same space, thankfully). And, since this is in a park, there is still the regular park-type fun to be had: playgrounds, rolling down grassy hills, cook-outs and more.

Quick Tips for Parking and Getting Around

Parking is always one of the key concerns with an event this big. Normally parking is free at the park, but over the weekend the lots and a few of the non-park lots are broken into pay zones, with pricing varying by proximity. You can snag a pass online for as little as $5 or you can venture into the nearby neighborhoods to find street parking and get a bit of a walk. Remember to be considerate of residents by not blocking driveways, letting your car hang out in the street or generally making it inconvenient for others to get around.

Speaking of which, many streets will be closed, so check out the Labor Day Lift Off website for closures. Remember that the busiest times to travel will be morning and evening. Also of note, the residential areas west of the park don’t have great visibility at night. Drive with caution and keep your eye out for pedestrians.

With three packed days of activities, you should be able to find a few hours to check out the Labor Day Lift Off, be it the morning launch, daily competitions or the evening music and balloon glow. Mingle with your fellow Colorado Springs residents and discover why this has become a fan favorite for city events.

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