Immersive Holiday Balloon Exhibit Coming to 18th & Vine for Three-Day Event

You’ve likely been to a wedding or party that has included an impressively manicured balloon arch, wall, or other photo-op balloon installation. Possibly, you’ve even seen an artist or model around town sporting an outfit made from balloons. But you’ve probably never seen what’s about to pop up in Kansas City’s 18th & Vine District from December 2-4.

For three days, 10,000 square feet at the KC Parks and Rec’s Gregg/Klice Community Center at 18th & Vine will be transformed into An Enchanted Journey to Toy Town, a 4-D immersive experience with over 125,000 balloons, sights, sounds, and holiday ambience. The exhibit includes magical woods, a 20-foot-tall ice waterfall, a whimsical town square with a cocoa fountain and train station, as well as a colossal toyshop.

What’s brought this balloon extravaganza to town? The Big Balloon Build, a balloon artist nonprofit that promotes the health and well-being of children, has selected Kansas City as the second U.S. exhibition. Big Balloon Build selects local nonprofits in each city it visits to benefit from the exhibit. In Kansas City, Operation Breakthrough and Troost Market Collective have been chosen as the beneficiaries.

“We are so excited for Kansas City to experience the Big Balloon Build,” says Mary Esselmen, CEO of Operation Breakthrough. “Imagine—125,000 balloons that have been linked together to create a Holiday Toy Town by balloon builders from all around the world. What an amazing way to showcase the power of engineering and STEM! Proceeds from the Big Balloon Build will support workforce development for over 300 high school students who are learning industry-recognized skills in STEM at our newly opened Ignition Lab. We are so fortunate that our teens will have opportunities to learn from these entrepreneurs, gain hands-on experience, and have a lot of fun!” 

“Our team at Troost Market Collective could not think of a better way to kick off the holidays with the community,” adds Crissy Dastrup, the founder and board chair of Troost Market Collective. “We’re so excited!” 

A rendering of the Kansas City build.

Here’s the schedule for the week’s special events:

November 28-30:
More than 60 international balloon builders arrive in 18th & Vine to begin building Toy Town inside the Gregg/Klice Community Center. Kids from Operation Breakthrough will join for project-based learning in creative engineering. 

December 2-4:
9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.: The Big Balloon Build will be open for public exploration and special programming opportunities throughout 18th & Vine.
11 a.m. to 6 p.m.: Soul of Santa Holiday Market curated by Art Garden KC

December 1:
1 p.m.: Ribbon-cutting to Toy Town
5:30 p.m.: Adults-only Happy Hour 

December 2:
6 p.m.:  Clockwork Noel Gala, a one-night-only balloon fashion show featuring a dreamlike collection of unique dresses and wearables, fused with music and performance, worn by some of the community’s most familiar faces.

December 3:
5:30 p.m.: Adults-only Happy Hour

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