The 2013 Preakness Celebration Hot Air Balloon Festival will be back in town as the region prepares for the 138th Annual Preakness Stakes.

The balloon festival will be at Turf Valley in Ellicott City Thursday, May 16 to Saturday, May 18. Held for more than 30 years, the festival includes four hot-air balloon launches, tethered balloon rides and ballon flights, food and craft vendors and children’s activities.

Hot-air balloon launches will take place 6:30 p.m. Thursday, May 16, 6:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. Friday, May 17, and 6:30 a.m. Saturday, May 18. Evening activities run from 4 – 9 p.m. Thursday and Friday. The only Saturday event is the early-morning balloon launch.

The 138th Annual Preakness Stakes — the second jewel in the Triple Crown — is also Saturday, May 18 at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore.

Admission to the festival is free. Public parking will be available off-site at the Howard County Fairgrounds for the evening events. For the 6:30 a.m. balloon launches, parking will be available only at Turf Valley. Fairground parking is $5 per car. Shuttle buses will be available to and from Turf Valley. The last shuttle departs Turf Valley at 10:30 p.m. For more information call 410-465-1500 ext. 2874.