Want to do something special for mom on Mother’s Day this year? Why not bring her to the beach for a very special festival—the 12th annual Gulf Coast Hot Air Balloon Festival.

To be held Mother’s Day weekend just north of Gulf Shores, in Foley, Ala., the festival is expected to bring more than 30 balloons and thousands of visitors to the area.

Get Glowing On Thursday

At 7 p.m., on Thursday, the festival’s kick-off “glow” event will feature 10 balloons at Tanger Outlets in Foley. Visitors can talk to the pilots and crew and see inside the balloons.

Kick It Into Gear On Friday

Beginning at 2 p.m., on Friday, arts and crafts vendors, retail vendors and food vendors will open. Children can have fun at the on-site carnival, which will also begin at 2 p.m. 

The K9 Frisbee dog show will be held at 3, 5 and 7 p.m. From 5 p.m. to dusk will be an interactive hot air balloon display, where you can actually walk inside a hot air balloon.

Tethered rides will begin at dusk. Also at dusk, you can watch the balloons glow and soar through the night sky during the balloon glow and mass ascension event.

Live music will also be available beginning at 8 p.m.

Run, Play & Browse On Saturday

Saturday will kick off early with the Color the Sky 5k Run. The race will begin at 8 a.m. 

Balloons fly at 7 a.m.. At 8 a.m., a car show will be held and vendors open for business. The Disconnected K9 Frisbee Dog Show will be held at 9 a.m. and 3 and 7 p.m.

From 5 p.m. until dusk will be an interactive hot air balloon display, with tethered rides and balloon glow and mass ascension beginning at dusk.

Stick around for music from The Molly Ringwalds beginning at 8 p.m.

Festival grounds will not be open on Sunday, but look to the sky to see the balloons in flight. 

Make The Most Of Your Festival Experience

Organizers offered several tips for making the most of the balloon festival: 

  • Balloons fly early in the morning (around dawn) and late in the afternoon (around dusk).

  • Balloons can only fly in perfect weather. Wind speeds must be 7mph or less in order to fly.

  • Tethered rides require a signed waiver of liability (available on site).

  • Coolers, smoking and pets are not allowed!

  • Remember to bring sunscreen and lawn chairs.

  • You might not be able to go to the festival grounds on Sunday, but why not shop the Tanger Outlets for great retail deals? Use your "Balloon Bucks" card for special discounts at Tanger and other area retailers.

Put A ‘Spring’ In Your Step With A Special Discount

Plan your trip to the Gulf Coast for the Hot Air Balloon Festival,  and save 25% on your beach accommodations.

Using code 16SPRING, this discount will be available through Meyer Vacation Rentals or the South Baldwin Chamber of Commerce’s inaugural “Balloon Bucks” discount card, which offers discounts at numerous local retailers before and during the festival.