Great War Memorial Balloon Race set June 22-25

by Kerry Kraus

The skies over Little Rock will be a lot more colorful Friday, June 22, through Sunday, June 24, because of the inaugural Great War Memorial Balloon Race.

The three-day event will showcase balloons from all over the country while building awareness of local non-profit organizations.

Activities kick off at 4 p.m. Friday with jazz, food, art vendors and events just for the kids. An opening ceremony with Mayor Mark Stodola takes place at 6 p.m., followed by the inflation of the 150-foot-tall “Freedom Eagle.”

A balloon launch (weather permitting) and tethered rides begin at 6:30 p.m. along with a balloon glow.

Saturday, June 23 starts bright and early at 6:30 a.m. with a competition flight, once again, weather permitting. Departure location is dependent on wind direction.

A fun Zumba session is at 9 a.m. at the Daily Fitness Center in War Memorial Park. At 10 a.m., food trucks, art vendors, children’s activities, the Clear Channel radio “boom box” music and a fishing derby begin. Also taking place are carnival games offered by B.I.G. Love Cancer Care, a Girl Scout project, and the opening of the new War Memorial Park splash fountain and playground.

Live music performances begin at 3 p.m. and continue until around 11 p.m., during which a balloon glow will be held at approximately 8:30 p.m. A mass ascension of up to 25 hot air balloons will launch at 6 p.m. if weather permits, along with tethered rides, jazz, food, vendor booths and children’s activities. 
A second balloon competition flight takes off at 6:30 a.m. on Sunday, followed by a continuation of Saturday’s events. The closing celebration at dusk features luminaries and music.

Additional information is available by visiting or by contacting Lisa Archer, event director, at [email protected].

Kerry Kraus is a travel writer for the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism.