The first annual Grand Rapids Balloon Festival launches on Friday and Saturday.

Twenty-one hot air balloons from across the midwestern U.S., including the iconic Re/Max balloon, are taking part, according to festival organizer Re/Max of Grand Rapids.

The festival includes goings-on starting at 6 p.m. Friday and 6 a.m. Saturday on the grounds of the corporate headquarters of Gordon Food Service, 1300 Gezon Parkway SW in Wyoming.

The Re/Max hot air balloon was part of Re/Max of Grand Rapids' Family Fun Zone at the Amway Family Fireworks at Ah-Nab-Awen Park in Grand Rapids on July 5. (Photo: Rick Martinez/Townsquare Media Grand Rapids)

Friday’s events include:

  • 6 p.m.-9 p.m.: Fun and food, with games and activities including food vendors and sponsor booths.
  • 6 p.m.-7 p.m.: Balloon launch.
  • 7 p.m.-8 p.m.: Night glow. As the sun goes down, watch as the hot air balloons glow while aloft in the sky.

Saturday’s events include:

  • 6 a.m.: Balloon launch.
  • 2 p.m.-4 p.m.: Community presentations, with public safety vehicles for local firefighting, emergency medical services and law enforcement.
  • 2 p.m.-4 p.m.: Balloon walk, an opportunity to see inside a hot air balloon.
  •  2 p.m.-9 p.m.: Fun and food, with games and activities including food vendors and sponsor booths.
  • 4 p.m.-5 p.m.: Meet and greet the festival’s balloon pilots.
  • 6 p.m.-7 p.m.: Balloon launch.
  • 7 p.m.-8 p.m.: Night glow. For a second evening as the sun sets, see the hot air balloons aglow in the sky.

The four charities benefiting from the Grand Rapids Balloon Festival are Hug-a-Bears of Kent County, Metro Health Hospital Foundation, Paws with a Cause and Starlite Shores Family Camp.

Greatest Hits 98.7 WFGR, 100.5 The River and Townsquare Media Grand Rapids are media co-sponsors.