Hot air balloons will float outside of the WWI museum Saturday. Yes, you can ride in one

·3 min read

It’s the Great Balloon Glow, Kansas City!

The National World War I Museum is hosting its second Great Balloon Glow event starting at 5 p.m. on Saturday on the museum and memorial grounds.

Eighteen hot air balloons will be tethered to the ground on the north end, where they will be lit up at 8:30 p.m.

The second annual free event has its ties to World War I. Matthew Naylor, president and CEO of the museum, said that hot air balloons — called dirigibles back then — were used during the war to collect information and stay out of range of the gunfire on the ground.

“Over 100 years later, we invite friends and families from across the region to experience the beauty of the hot air balloon glow in front of the Kansas City skyline,” Naylor said.

The museum works with local balloon pilots in the region who travel the balloon circuit to festivals across the region and country. Each pilot brings their own balloon to fly.

You’ll be able to ride in one of the hot air balloons on the southeast end. Two of them will be tethered together, taking you up 40 feet in the air for three minutes. Advance tickets for the balloon rides are sold out, but a limited number of tickets will be available on Saturday for $25 per person.

Last year, the museum expected 5,000 people to attend, and 30,000 people showed up. This year, Karis Erwin, vice president of marketing with the museum, said they’re more than prepared for the crowds.

The National World War I Museum and Memorial launched its’ first annual Great Balloon Glow on Sunday, May 30, 2021, in Kansas City. The event featured 13 hot air balloons as well as music, food trucks and 30 different craft vendors.
The National World War I Museum and Memorial launched its’ first annual Great Balloon Glow on Sunday, May 30, 2021, in Kansas City. The event featured 13 hot air balloons as well as music, food trucks and 30 different craft vendors.

WHAT ELSE CAN I DO BESIDES RIDE?

If heights aren’t your thing, you’ll have plenty to do on the ground. Grand Marquis, a local big brass band, will perform from 6:15 p.m. to 7:10 p.m., take a short break and then continue from 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Other than walking around and enjoying the hot air balloons, other activities will be spread across the lawn.

Local makers’ market Strawberry Swing will have booths set up showcasing work from Kansas City artists that you can browse.

Other activities will include:

  • Barkville Bakery gourmet treats and cakes for dogs

  • Face painting

  • Balloon art

  • Henna

  • Glow toys

  • Museum store

IS THERE GOING TO BE FOOD?

The Great Balloon Glow will have dozens of food trucks available, including:

The National World War I Museum and Memorial launched its’ first annual Great Balloon Glow on Sunday, May 30, 2021, in Kansas City. The event featured 13 hot air balloons as well as music, food trucks and 30 different craft vendors.
The National World War I Museum and Memorial launched its’ first annual Great Balloon Glow on Sunday, May 30, 2021, in Kansas City. The event featured 13 hot air balloons as well as music, food trucks and 30 different craft vendors.

WHERE DO I PARK?

If you have a disability, parking opens at 4:30 p.m. at Federal Reserve Bank on 1 Memorial Dr. and is first come, first served.

Otherwise, the museum recommends parking further away and taking the KC Streetcar to the Union Station stop. Free parking will be available near the North Loop stops at 601 Main and 711 Main.

Paid parking is available for $15 (credit card only) at Union Station and in Hallmark’s surface lots, which are located at 27th Street and Grand Boulevard.

Heads up: You won’t be able to park in the Crown Center parking lots or use the Crown Center garages to park.