Medicine Hat's first hot air balloon festival will rise up this summer in Echo Dale Regional Park
When Willy Taillon received his pilot’s license in 2021, he and his wife Cindy would float among the clouds above Medicine Hat and view the beautiful coulees, bunches of green trees, and ever-flowing South Saskatchewan River, while the breeze brushed their warm faces.
While the two are in the air, those standing, driving, or sitting on the land look up and see this bright-coloured balloon soar through the sky, a sight they haven’t seen since the early 90s.
“After our very first flight in Medicine Hat, we went on our phones and saw all these photos of the balloon and text messages. I couldn’t believe how happy the city was and how happy it made everyone feel,” says Willy.
The two received this energy and decided to plan Medicine Hat’s first balloon festival, Rise Up, in partnership with addiction and mental health non-for-profit, Our Collective Journey. Between May 26-29, 2022, over a dozen eye-catching hot air balloons will lift off from Echo Dale Regional Park and float into the big sky while the sun rises and sets.
“Seeing one balloon in the sky is very cool, but when you have multiple and watch them all take off at the same time, it really is something special,” says Willy.
The last night will feature a balloon glow — where hot air balloons are inflated, illuminated, and tethered to the ground so people can walk around and see them up close.
Food trucks will be present to fill the tummies of those enjoying the beauty and basking in the sunshine. Echo Dale Regional Park offers a lake for swimming, pond for fishing, trails for exploring, and grass-field for playing. Firepits, playgrounds, and volleyball courts are also there to help fill your day with activities.
“The festival is planned for people to enjoy the beauty of the balloons and our landscape. Whether they attend the event or see us fly during any other day, they have that moment to take in and be in-awe of what they’re seeing,” says Cindy.
Willy and Cindy are excited to share this experience with Medicine Hat and to see friends and families gather to spend time together and, for the first time, experience a Medicine Hat balloon festival.
“My favourite part of a hot air balloon ride is the takeoff and going on an adventure every single time. You never know where you’ll end up. You just go where the wind takes you,” says Willy.