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.

Other sponsors include Chicago Title, Metro Health, EverKept, Spica Properties, Achieve Title, Hopkins Propane, NorthPointe Bank, Diamond Residential Mortgage Corp., Applied Imaging, Chemical Bank, First American Title, Health Markets, Integrity Business Solutions, The Rehmann Group, Image Builders Marketing, Fifth Third Mortgage and WGVU Public Media.