photographed by Kjersten Hellis


Brightly colored balloons glided into the air as morning light rose above the eastern horizon and Smith Rock. It was the sunrise launch of the Balloons Over Bend Children’s Festival, a beloved Central Oregon tradition. As spectators gathered in crowds on the ground, 1859 photo intern, Kjersten Hellis, had the advantage of watching the show from a Cessna 172.

balloons over bend

This year’s Balloons Over Bend took place from July 21-24, with multiple events to enjoy throughout the weekend. Each morning began with a hot air balloon launch at sunrise, and at sunset, ignited propane illuminated balloons from within.


Hot air balloons are the main attraction, but certainly not the only event during this festival. The Children’s Festival begins on Saturday with activities ranging from bounce houses, to the Reptile Zone, to the Balloon Blast Kid’s Fun Run. There are also performances by Academie De Ballet Classique and lessons from Leia Napoli Knife Dance & Belly Dance and Wushu Oregon Tai Chi. The Children’s Festival partners with nonprofit Saving Grace and proceeds go to the organization’s domestic violence and sexual assault services in the community.

balloons over bend