The grounds of the Rosalie Mansion host the Natchez Balloon Festival which takes place every October in Mississippi. The beauty of the surroundings gives elegance and grace to the balloons both on the ground and in the air.
Imagine manicured fields and tree-lined bluffs. Picture a majestic river, wide-open spaces, and a blue sky. This is the scene of the Natchez Balloon Festival. A breathtaking sight, the balloons soar overhead as they display vibrant colors and designs.
On the ground, the action is non-stop. Sports fans can pop into the sports tent to catch up on a game of their liking in progress. Arts and crafts enthusiasts can wander the craft fair and enjoy the talents of the vendors. If you like music, stop for a listen and tap your toes to the beat.
The festival is an all-ages event that will entertain the kids, too. Carnival rides and fair favorites like games and cotton candy will have the young ones of your group asking to return year after year.
Exploring Natchez and the surrounding area is a must-do. History lives here in the stories of the rivers and bayous. Be sure to plan a long vacation in the comfort of your RV as you travel to Mississippi.
Buy your tickets to the Natchez Balloon Festival online, or purchase at the gate at a slightly higher cost. You can take a pass for a day or for the weekend, which will ensure that you do not miss a thing. See www.natchezballoonfestival.com to choose the package best for your gang. Prices usually range from $5 to $40. Carnival ride tickets are extra.
When you cross the Mississippi River from Louisiana via I-425, you have almost arrived if coming from the north. You may also pass through or near the Homochitto National Forest coming from som locations. Set your GPS coordinates to the location of the Rosalie Mansion, home of the balloon fest, among other Natchez events. Before leaving home, make yourself aware of the local radio stations in the area so that you can tune in as you drive to hear road and weather conditions.
There are several places to park your RV or tow vehicle in Natchez. There is a paid site across from the festival grounds. City street parking is a possibility, although you will have to be aware of the difficulty of maneuvering your RV on busy streets that may be narrow in places. If you have a tow vehicle or a smaller rig like a campervan, moving about may be easier.
There is no easily accessible public transit system in Natchez, although there is a trolley. Making a call to the visitor’s center may be the best way to learn more. There is parking at the visitor’s center and a shuttle that runs to the festival from there. Make an inquiry if you choose to take advantage of this stress-free form of transiting to the fest.
Natchez is among the oldest of cities along the Mississippi River, and although you cannot camp at the Rosalie Mansion, there is much to explore in the community when you drive into the area. Natchez State Park is 10 miles to the north, and you can also look to Ferriday, Vidalia, and Roxie for great places to set up camp.
Where to stay with an RV? The State of Mississippi is a wonder to explore, and you do not have to venture far beyond Natchez to experience the majesty of the Mississippi River. Choose a camping location that offers hiking, boating, and even views of barges passing by as they make a journey to another part of the country. Many say the best campsite along the river will be one with shade and a clear view of the action on the water. Natchez State Park may also offer something to consider under half an hour's drive from the festival site.
The grounds are relatively flat so maneuvering a wheelchair is possible, although rain may make the grass tricky to navigate. Bring along a friend for assistance just in case. Strollers and wagons will make transporting the kids more manageable and will provide a seat for the youngest if they get tired. Adults, wear your comfiest shoes for traversing from one end of the event to the other.
Shorts and a t-shirt make appropriate balloon fest attire. Bring a cozy sweatshirt or jacket for mornings and evenings, in case the temperature drops a bit, or the wind picks up. Have a hat with you because you may need sun protection for the ears and neck. Have the kiddos tote their favorite hat, so they are sure to don it when required.
Bring a lawn chair or blanket for seating at the Natchez Baloon Festival. Leave umbrellas and tents at home, as no one wants the best balloon view blocked right at launch time. Your gear must be transported in a clear plastic bag as backpacks are not permitted. Add sunscreen and sunglasses to your bag, and don’t forget your camera. The photo ops will be endless.
Outside food and drink items are not permitted, but there are vendors on site. Keep the family well hydrated so that everyone stays happy and energetic. Have the kids rest on the blanket in between games and carnival rides. Give clear rules for behavior at the fest, especially related to helping pilots care for balloons if you are allowed to get close. The crowds will be significant, and the kiddos need to be in your view at all times.
Oatmeal and bagels will start a day at the campsite off right. Call everyone to a lunch of submarine sandwiches, and for the evening meal, barbecue chicken and salads will hit the spot. As you pack for your road trip, take stock of the cooking supplies. Utensils, pots, pans, cleaning equipment, and linens are part of a smooth-running motorhome kitchen. Top the propane and water, and you are ready to go.
Give the chef a break from the kitchen and head into Natchez for a meal. The choices are second to none. Sample a fish fry while overlooking the water. Revisit the backdrop of the bluffs for a light bistro meal. Tacos, pizza, tamales, or authentic southern dishes await. And of course, make another stop for dessert before heading back to the camper.
Many who attend the Natchez Balloon Festival go just as much for the unique arts and crafts fair as they do for the colorful displays of balloons. Support local artisans and buy a homemade craft. If balloon fest merchandise is what you are looking for, this is the place to get it. Sample the delicious food while there. Choose a healthy dish or delight in a once-a-year treat.
Security personnel insists only on clear bags for transporting your gear into the Natchez Balloon Festival. For the safety of all, bags will be checked as you enter. Please leave dogs and pets at home. Certified and properly identifiable service dogs are permitted on the grounds but remember that the balloon equipment can be noisy at times. No drones are allowed on the grounds, and festival-goers are asked to keep a respectful distance from the pilots and their balloons.
The weather can affect how the balloon festival takes place. Rain or too much wind can both play a part in delaying a launch session. Safety is the first priority, and although the pilots want to fly as much as you want to see them, the schedule may have to change per the conditions. The balloons typically take off at dawn and dusk, when the air is usually still.
One of the best pieces of advice for RV camping is to keep a well-stocked first-aid kit. Camping goes hand in hand with bumps and scrapes that take place when hiking, rock climbing, and exploring. The kiddos may take a fall when racing into the water. Soothe a bobo with colorful band-aids. Keep peroxide on hand to disinfect a cut and as well, be sure to include tweezers, gauze, tape, after-sun spray, and antibiotic cream in the kit.