If you've looked up at the mountains or been out on the trails lately, you've probably noticed fall colors sneakily creeping into the foliage. This weekend the short but sweet autumn season officially gets underway with the return of the Autumn Aloft Balloon Festival. On Saturday and Sunday, September 16 and 17, we highly recommend you wake early and get yourself over to Treasure Mountain Middle School by 8 a.m. to watch as dozens of colorful hot air balloons float across the sky.
Why come out, you may ask? Seeing a hot air balloon on the horizon isn't a rare thing in Park City since it's a reasonably popular tourist activity to soar over the mountains. But there's something magical about getting close and seeing many balloons up all at once. Saturday morning's launch should be particularly spectacular: former Utah Opera Resident Artist Tyson Miller will be performing as the balloons take to the sky at 8 a.m. as part of the Opera's 40th anniversary celebration, 40 Days of Opera.
Autumn Aloft is also, of course, a fantastic opportunity to snap surreal photos. You can even hop into a pre-event photography class on September 14th at Pictureline in Salt Lake City (305 W. 700 South) from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.to pick up some tips and tricks for capturing that perfect balloon shot you've always wanted.
Aside from the early morning launches, this festival also includes a "Candlestick" event on Saturday evening at 8 p.m. on Main Street between 4th and 5th Streets. Eight hot-air balloon baskets will be on location with their pilots letting the fire rip on their burners in a sort of choreographed musical spectacle.
Here's a brief look at last year's media launch:
The festival is strictly a spectator event and no balloon rides will be offered. If getting up into the air strikes your fancy, there are some commercial options available, including Park City Balloon Adventures and Skywalker Balloon Company.