• Features
  • About
  • Careers
  • Newsletter
Features Natchez holds annual hot air balloon festival

Natchez holds annual hot air balloon festival


This last weekend marked the 30th anniversary of Natchez’s most anticipated event: the Great Mississippi River Balloon Race.

Hot air balloonists from around the country gathered to celebrate the festival, and people of all ages who attended the festival came for the colorful balloons, famous musicians and Southern-style food.

The Great Mississippi River Balloon Race kicked off Friday at 6 p.m. at Rosalie Bicentennial Gardens on the corner of Canal and D.A. Biplane Streets in downtown Natchez. That night, balloons lit up the night sky as part of the initial balloon glow show. The glow show was followed by a splendid fireworks show centered on the Mississippi River, leading to a carnival.

The event was sponsored by neighboring cities like Vidalia and has drawn spectators from both sides of the river. The entire event hosted a children’s village and a variety of regional foods. Balloon competitions took place at 7 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.

The start of the event featured a live performance by local favorite Bishop Gunn, and the rest of the weekend was filled with performances by a variety of well-known musicians.

The entertainment lineup included Dr. John and Nite Trippers, Mingo Fishtrap, Anders Osborne, Johnny Samson and Monk Boudreaux, New Breed Brass Band, Brint Anderson, Mojo Mudd, Gred Martinez, Hannah Belle and the Concordia Parish Gifted Music Program.

Blufftoberfest, a collaborative project between five brewing companies, also joined the festival this year and showcased craft beers from various breweries. Oktoberfest-style beer and foods were included with the admission price. A craft fair also took place at the festival and featured some of the area’s best artisans and their works. The sports bar tent, which held several large screen televisions, attracted many fans for its several featured football games throughout the weekend.

Businesses and restaurants in Natchez are benefited by the annual event and expected to yield high returns this year.

“We had a great turnout this year compared to last year, which had high winds,” said Piara Brown, Natchez Grand Hotel manager. “Because our hotel is in the downtown area, we are in a key location for the event. Our hotel books up within three months (before) the event happens.”

Maxine and Bruce Brice are volunteers for the Natchez Music Festival, for which Jay Dean is the artistic director. The Brices were fundraising for the organization and are members of the Natchez Historical Society, which sponsors the festival.

“Natchez is a hospitable town, and it’s always exciting to welcome visitors here for whatever event, but this one seems to be the most favorite event that happens,” Maxine Brice said. The widely attended annual event has won several local and state awards for its ongoing success.

The Southern Miss Outdoor and Adventures team takes students to Natchez to try and attend the event. The team is hopeful to go next year because they were not able to participate.


“I love that this is held in fall and October; I love seeing the people that come here,” said Kelly Durr, attendee and 2014 USM alumnus. “It’s like a big family get-together. The weather is great and the balloons are a lot of fun. Getting to fly over the Mississippi River is a beautiful view.”

Afnan Beauti
Nan is a chemistry major, Luckyday Scholar, and Honors College student at USM. She enjoys writing, exercising, and speaking life to her peers and family.

Latest news

Southern Miss shows off firepower to sweep series against UAB

Southern Miss (21-9, 8-3 Conference USA) showed the full range of its firepower as it swept UAB...

Social media shouldn’t be considered a public utility

The United States Supreme Court recently dismissed a case that claimed former president Donald Trump violated the...

SAPA will “Walk A Mile” to raise money for crisis intervention

In an effort to raise money for the Shafer Center for Crisis Intervention, the Sexual Assault Prevention...

Health officials explain COVID-19 vaccination side effects to ease second dose scares

As people continue to receive COVID-19 vaccinations across the country, the growing number of reported side effects...

Nannie Mac’s extends hours for finals week

Nannie Mac’s recently announced that they will be open for later hours during finals week. Ever since...

“Set Him Up” sets Queen Naija up for a great deluxe

On April 8, Queen Naija released a new single, “Set Him Up”, featuring soul singer Ari Lennox....

Must read

Southern Miss shows off firepower to sweep series against UAB

Southern Miss (21-9, 8-3 Conference USA) showed...

Social media shouldn’t be considered a public utility

The United States Supreme Court recently dismissed...

You might also likeRELATED
Recommended to you