Looking for a way to kick-off your Memorial Day celebrations? Check out the 38th annual Alabama Jubilee Hot Air Balloon Classic where you can walk around and view 60 hot air balloons up close (they are HUGE – it still amazes me to walk through as they are being inflated, can you imagine how my 4 year old feels?!?!), watch the balloons race, take a tethered balloon ride, or watch them glow at night.
The weekend also includes: fireworks, music, a tractor show, a classic car show, an arts and crafts show, ice skating exhibition, and food and activity vendors, including a kids’ inflatable zone! Between balloon events, families are encouraged to set up for the day and enjoy frisbee games, kite flying, water balloon wars, lunch picnics, etc. So, plan to bring your favorite games, chairs and blankets to enjoy the whole day!
This weekend also marks the opening of Point Mallard Water Park for the season, check out their website for pricing and times. It is a favorite of my family’s – we LOVE the wave pool and lazy river.
Alabama Jubilee Festival Details
Location: Point Mallard Park, Decatur (map)
Cost: The Alabama Jubilee is FREE to the public (there are no entry fees), however the vendors charge and there is a fee to get into the water park. Parking is free but the shuttle buses cost $1.00 per passenger, per-way if you park in a remote lot.
– Saturday, May 23 –
- 6:00 a.m. – Hound and Hare Balloon Race
- 8:30 a.m. – 12 noon – Alabama Jubilee Auto Expo antique car show, behind Spirit of America Stage
- 12:30 – 2:00 p.m. – Ice skating exhibition, Point Mallard Ice Rink
- 3:00 p.m. – Skydive Alabama jumpers launch
- 5:00 p.m. – Balloon Fun Flight
- 5:30 p.m. – The Overtones (rock/pop)
- 7:00 p.m. – 11 p.m. Four on the Floor (1950s, ’60s, ’70s)
- 8:00 p.m. – Balloon Glow” Southland Flywheelers Tractors Show” located near T.C. Almon Recreation Center
- 8:00 – Display area opens to the public
- 10:00 a.m. – Tractor Parade of Power around the Jubilee Field
- 11:00 a.m. – Tractor Games
- 11:00 a.m. – 1 p.m. – Pedal Tractor Park (6 years old and under)
- 2:00 p.m. – Pedal Tractor Park (6 years old and under)
Pedal Tractor Park Open to Public All Day – No Charge
Hands-On Historical Tool Area Open to the Public All Day, No Charge
– Sunday, May 24 –
- 6:00 a.m. – Lynn Layton Chevrolet Key Grab Balloon Race
- 7:00 a.m. – Balloons begin arriving on field
- 5:00 p.m. – Balloon Fun Flight
- 5:30 p.m. – The Zooks (rock/pop)
- 6:30 p.m. – Balloons offer tethered rides
- 7:00 p.m. – 11 p.m. – Natchez Trace (Southern rock)
- 9:30 p.m. – Alabama Jubilee Fireworks Spectacular by Pyro Shows
Alabama Jubilee Tips for Parents
- Bring your own chairs, blanket, sunblock and shade. There is only grass, no seats and no shade so keep that in mind.
- There is just about anything you might want to eat available so come hungry. Bring your own water. There are places that sell it but no water fountains.
- Balloons fly early in the morning and late afternoon. Morning flights begin at 6:00a.m.; Afternoon 6 ~ 7:30p.m. Arrive early to avoid parking problems.
- There are no balloon events during the daytime so be prepared to otherwise occupy your time if you plan to stay. The balloon field is often the scene of Frisbee games, kite flying, water balloon wars, lunch picnics, etc.. so feel-free to bring and use your play equipment; however be prepared to move out of the way of balloon and official vehicles when flight times arrive.
- While the balloons are tethered to the ground many of them will sell “rides” for not much money. Tethered rides require a signed waiver of liability; children 19 and under must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
- Not all balloons will give tethers; if you are un-sure please just ask a crew member.
- Please remember tethered rides are not fair rides. Balloons are certified aircraft and do run-out of fuel, cannot fly at night, and weather conditions can change causing a stop of balloon operations. We are sorry if you did not get the ride you waited for, but safety comes first.
- Many pilots will not tether children three and under. The loud burner noise can damage their ears.
- There is no smoking on the launch field. Balloons use liquid propane as fuel, which is highly flammable.
- After the sun goes down, there are a LOT of vendors selling the light up toys. Save yourself $20 per kid and buy them glow sticks and a light up toy before you go. The race is early in the morning and the “light show” is after the sun goes down.
- If you stay for the light show it will be LATE (10:00-10:30 or so) before you get out of the park because of the traffic.
- Dogs and pets are welcome but must be leashed and bagged after.
- If you want to bring a sun-shelter you may, however NO pop tailgating tents since they take-up too much room and are hard to move.
- Don’t forget your fully-charged camera with available memory…it’s always bummer to have a dead camera or full memory if the perfect shot arrives.
- Some pilots may ask bystanders to help with the balloons but unless you are asked please do not touch the equipment.
- Be mindful of your surroundings; DO NOT walk-over ropes, even if laying on the ground, please walk-around. Winds change and shift tether ropes can be very dangerous.
Photos and Parent Pro-Tips provided in part by RCM Contributor, Jenni McCarty.
A Huntsville native, Katie Hodge graduated from UAH and enjoyed teaching for 7 years with Madison County Schools. She left teaching to work with her husband, Trey, who owns and operates a logistics company - Rocket City Logistics. Katie works from home with the help of her two little guys, Zane and Max. Her favorite days are spent either with family or working on a DIY project all while consuming ample amounts of caffeine.