Up, up and away: The 2015 Ascension Hot Air Balloon Festival _lowres

Photo provided by Brian Dryden -- Hot air balloons glow during the Ascension Hot Air Balloon Festival. The event returns Friday to the Lamar Dixon Expo Center.

Balloons, baskets and no room for acrophobia. That’s what you can expect at this year’s Ascension Hot Air Balloon Festival.

Whether you prefer your fun from the ground or up above, the event on Friday and Saturday, Sept., 25-26, at the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center in Gonzales, promises something for all ages.

This year’s event will feature live music, face painting, carnival rides and even a magician for the children. Expect more than 30 balloons with three special balloons shaped like a giant crab, bird and cat.

This year’s musical performances include Elvin Killerbee at 5:30 p.m. Friday and Chris LeBlanc at 7:30 p.m. Friday. On Saturday, Don Berry and Rock N Horse performs at 4 p.m., followed by Mike Zito and the Wheel at 5:30 p.m., and Nik-L-Beer at 7:30 p.m.

“This is going to be a big exciting event for Ascension Parish and surrounding areas,” said Director of Balloon Operations Robert Ambeau. “We have people coming from as far as Texas, Mississippi, Alabama and Connecticut.”

The festival will also feature tethered rides at 4 p.m., if weather permits. Rides will be $20 per adult (13 years old and up) and $10 per child (12 years old and younger). Windy conditions may warrant suspension of both the rides and balloon glows. The glows would begin at sunset.

“You have to watch the winds and make sure they are calm enough to put the balloon up,” Ambeau said. “If it’s too breezy, you have to wait for the winds to die down. It’s all about safety first.”

Gates open 4 p.m.-11 p.m. Friday, and 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday. General admission is $5 for adults and free for children 12 and younger. For more information, visit ascensionballooning.com.