Every Labor Day weekend, the skies over Colorado Springs turn colorful with rising hot air balloons. The Labor Day Lift Off is one of, if not the largest, event in the Springs, and it’s clearly a favorite tradition for many locals. Now in its 46th year, the free festival continues to add new activities to the long list of old favorites. Here are seven highlights you don’t want to miss at this year’s Labor Day Lift Off. All events take place in the main festival zone on the east side of Memorial Park unless otherwise noted.
7. Colorado Springs Aloft
Get an early jump on your the balloons and festive weekend this year with the new Colorado Springs Aloft at Banning Lewis Ranch on Thursday, Sept. 1. The event will feature food trucks, music, family activities and balloons.
6. Krispy Kreme Doughnut Eating Contest
How many doughnuts can you eat? Find out if you’re a champion at the annual Doughnut Eating Contest on Saturday, Sept. 3 and Sunday, Sept. 4 at 9:30 a.m. on the main stage. Registration is on-site only.
5. Orangetheory 5K at Labor Day Lift Off
This year launches the Orangetheory 5K race at Labor Lift Off on Sunday, Sept. 4 at 9 a.m. The 5K starts at the IAFF Fallen Firefighters Memorial (northwest corner of Memorial Park), heads though the side streets of Memorial Park, wraps around Prospect Lake and finishes at Memorial Park.
4. Concert Series
Dance to live music each afternoon and night of the festival. All concerts are on the main stage in Memorial Park. Here’s the lineup:
Missy and the Dirty Secrets: Sept. 3, 3:30 p.m.
Female-fronted rock from the ’70s, ’80s, ’90s and ’00s.
Reminiscent Souls: Sept. 3, 6 -7 p.m. and 8:30-9:30 p.m.
R&B, funk, Motown and an infectious dance groove.
Mosquito Pass: Sept. 4, 3:30 p.m.
Classic and outlaw country, Southern rock and a little bluegrass
The Martini Shot Band: Sept. 4, 6-7 p.m. and 8:30-9:30 p.m.
High energy pop and rock covers from one of Southern Colorado’s favorite bands.
Mile High Rock Band: Sept. 5, 8:30 a.m.
A wide range of pop, rock, country and jazz from the premier ensemble of Fort Carson’s 4th Infantry Division Band. Note that this is the one morning concert of the lineup.
3. Balloons, Brews & Bites Happy Hour
The Balloon, Brews and Bites Happy Hour features discounted drinks, live music and early-access to family-fun activities. Happy hour happens 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 3 and Sunday, Sept. 4.
2. Balloon Rides
There’s no better way to experience the Labor Day Lift Off like being in the air among the balloons. You can take your own flight with Rainbow Ryders, and there were still limited spots available when this article published. Book your balloon flight here.
1. The Balloons
Those bright, colorful hot air balloons are the stars of the show. This year, 75 balloons will float in the Colorado Springs sky for the largest balloon festival in Colorado. They are beautiful and inspiring in early morning lift offs or illuminated during nightly balloon glows. Specially shaped balloons will include Master Yoda, Darth Vader, Allycorn the Unicorn and more. Daily morning balloon lift offs are 7-9 a.m. Sunset balloon glows happen at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 3 and Sunday, Sept. 4.
There’s more you don’t want to miss at the Labor Day Lift Off, such as performances by the Wings of Blue U.S. Air Force Skydiving Team, stand-up paddleboarding at the UpaDowna SUP Social, aerial acrobatics by Aerial Aura and more.
Find more info and the full weekend schedule at coloradospringslabordayliftoff.com
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