The town of San Sebastián del Oeste, a favorite getaway for folks living and visiting Puerto Vallarta, has just announced the second annual edition of their Hot Air Paper Balloon Festival, to take place on Saturday, September 21. Organizers expect that this sophomore edition will bring in even more visitors than last year to one of Jalisco's most charming towns.

Servicios Turísticos SSO, the association that represents San Sebastian’s hotels and tourist-related businesses is in the process of releasing all the details for this unique event, but we have learned through one of their representatives that folks interested in creating their own paper balloon are encouraged to do so. A registration table will be in place at the main plaza for participants to sign up, between 4 and 5 pm, while the festivities will commence right at 5 pm.

A jury with members from Servicios Turísticos SSO and special guests will evaluate balloons for creativity, flight length and altitude. Three prizes will be awarded for the top contestants. To supplement the event, several vendors will set up booths on the plaza featuring edibles, beverages and craft items.

While no special lodging packages are being prepared by Servicios Turísticos SSO to supplement the event, Esther Trujillo, a representative of the association, emphasized the affordability of many hotels in town, encouraging folks to make reservations ahead of time, given the success of last year’s event.

Located only 80 minutes away from Puerto Vallarta along the Mascota-Guadalajara highway, San Sebastián del Oeste was once a very prosperous mining town. When the ores were depleted, however, commercial activity decreased considerably, shrinking its population from 20,000 to approximately 1,000 inhabitants and remaining as such throughout most of the 20th century. Today, San Sebastián is a serene, mountain town that remains untouched through the passing of time.

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Photos for this story, from last year’s event, courtesy of Yang Leal.