Photo by Brock Hires
Balloons take flight over the Methow valley during the 2015 Withrop Balloon Festival. This year’s events begin Friday.
As of Tuesday, March 1, 2016
WINTHROP — Brilliantly colored balloons are scheduled to soar over the Methow Valley this weekend during the 19th annual Winthrop Balloon Festival.
The March 4-6 event is expected to draw more than a dozen hot air balloons.
“It’s an incredible visual display as the balloons fly over the Old Western town of Winthrop and with the snow-capped mountains of the North Cascades as a backdrop,” according to the Winthrop Chamber of Commerce.
Visitors also can take in a variety of winter recreational pursuits, including Nordic skiing, snowshoeing, backcountry skiing, snowmobiling and sledding.
The chamber and Morning Glory Balloon Tours, 429 Twisp-Winthrop Eastside Road, are hosting the event.
The event starts at 7 a.m. Friday with inflation and launch of balloons, weather permitting, in the field behind the Winthrop Inn, 960 Highway 20.
Once launched, balloons usually stay aloft until around 9 a.m.
Organizers said spectators can visit the launch site for free for photos and viewing, but ask that pets not be brought along. Balloons also can be seen from several vantage points in the Methow Valley.
Saturday brings another 7 a.m. inflation and launch event.
A balloon glow is planned at 6 p.m. in downtown Winthrop.
“Several hot air balloons will light up the night sky as they inflate and glow like enormous lanterns,” chamber officials said.
“Come see the balloons up close. This is a very special experience not to be missed.”
On Sunday, another 7 a.m. inflation and launch event is planned.
Chamber officials caution that all events are dependent on the weather.
Limited space is available for people wanting to ride in a balloon, but slots fill up quickly, Morning Glory officials said. Arrangements can be made by contacting Morning Glory Balloon Tours.