The Great Texas Balloon Race, founded by local dentist Dr. Bill Bussey in 1977, has grown from a local gathering of friends to an international competition and the longest running hot air balloon event in Texas, now celebrating 43 years of flight. Dr. Bussey was inducted into the National U.S. Ballooning Hall of Fame in 2016, and had previously been inducted into the Texas Aviation Hall of Fame and the Ark-La-Tex Sports Museum of Champions. This world-class competition features sport and special shaped balloons and covers a three-day weekend every summer.
Dr. Bussey created the now famous “balloon glow,” and the grounded balloon light-up (a controlled firing of the gas burners that make the balloons rise) has been copied all over the world. When the hot air balloons aren’t competing in races or key grabs, there are a variety of activities to entertain audiences on the ground. Aircraft flights, plane demonstrations, skydivers and great musical entertainment anchor the weekend. There’s always a special “kids land,” craft vendors, and fabulous food. Based at the East Texas Regional airport, details for the event are located at greattexasballoonrace.com.
The Gregg County Courthouse is transformed into a beautiful light display, a huge Christmas tree brightens Heritage Plaza, and special holiday events fill downtown. The Longview AMBUCS Christmas Parade proceeds through downtown on the first Thursday of December with an impressive fleet of floats, antique cars, marching bands, and the ever-popular hot air balloon torch glow. Downtown museums host special events, including Breakfast with Santa and Mrs. Claus, A Living History Christmas, and Model Train exhibit.
The Greggton Rotary Longview PRCA Rodeo is one of the hottest tickets in town. Fans say it’s one of the most popular bull-riding, calf-roping, bareback-riding, saddle-bronc-riding, stick-horse-racing, clown-dodging rodeos ever to stir up dust at the Longview Rodeo Arena. The Rotarians say it’s just good, family fun. The Longview (Greggton) Rotary hosts this annual spring-time event to the delight of rodeo fans of all ages, and, as their primary fundraiser, allows the Rotary to give back $30,000 – $50,000 to the community in support of local non-profit organizations.
Long a fixture in the downtown marketplace, the Gregg County Historical Museum resides within a historic bank building with a colorful past. Several permanent and new exhibits enthrall guests with the booms and busts of a town built by the railroad and put on the international map because of oil. With a heritage begun by Native Americans and expanded by settlers, the story of Longview is both rich in mysteries as well as blessed by the generosity of the human spirit. gregghistorical.org
Every September, several homes and/or businesses of architectural significance are open to the public for a two-day tour benefiting the Gregg County Historical Museum. Always interesting, with a glimpse into the stories of many of the places distinctive to our local culture, the tour provides an opportunity for an easy day spent in homes that have, or will have, an impact on our community’s history. gregghistorical.org
A family-friendly event recapturing the drama and nail-biting frenzy of one of Longview’s most iconic pages of history, the infamous bank heist by the Bill Dalton Gang. Recreated on a blocked-off portion of Fredonia Street, and coupled with a fair-styled afternoon of activities, Dalton Days brings the bang and pop excitement that professional actors create when putting Longview citizens in peril, and all straight from local history. gregghistorical.org
Big names, big performances, and big fun are always in store at the Belcher Center, the premier performance venue in East Texas. Each season, the center attracts Broadway shows, concerts, comedians, and world-class performers for audiences of all ages. The beautiful venue is also the home of Longview’s symphony, ballet, and symphonic band. View performance dates and ticket options at belchercenter.com.
ArtsView Children’s Theatre, established in 2004, is committed to a progressive theatre arts education and outreach program for area children. It provides children’s programs as a way to educate tomorrow’s audiences about the joys of the performing and visual arts. It also nurtures the development of the performing arts in our community through education, and it creates, produces, and performs works that engage the entire family. Productions, summer camps, workshops, after school classes, and seminars are offered throughout the year. artsviewchildrenstheatre.com
The East Texas Symphonic Band (ETSB), founded in 1988, is a volunteer wind symphony made up of area musicians under the direction of conductor Dr. James Snowden. Its music spans the entire gamut of symphonic wind literature with a high emphasis on outstanding local musicians as soloists, both vocal and instrumental. The season typically consists of three formal concerts at LeTourneau University’s Belcher Performance Center and an informal summer outdoor “Pops in the Park” concert at Teague Park Amphitheatre. etsymphonicband.com
The Longview Jaycees host a weeklong, old-fashioned county fair with carnival rides, games, music, petting zoos, cotton candy, and corny dogs. Always in mid-September, the cooler temperatures bring out families and everyone enjoys a variety of good clean fun. greggcountyfair.com
Longview Ballet Theatre is dedicated to enhancing our community by combining beauty, skill, and vision to create innovative and inspiring performances for local audiences. For more than 50 years, Pat George Mitchell, founder and artistic director, has developed the talent of local dancers, several of whom have auditioned and been accepted into renowned programs across the nation. LBT’s annual performances are a marriage between company members and world class professional dancers, performing such classics as Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty, Peter Pan, and George Balanchine’s Serenade. longviewballet.org
The Longview Public Library hosts this free event celebrating diverse culture with music, performances, local authors, artists, and artisans. longviewtexas.gov
Longview celebrates America with one of the biggest and best fireworks shows in Texas. Before the fireworks light up the sky, an outdoor concert gets the party started at the Longview Convention Complex.
The fully professional Longview Symphony celebrates 51 years of providing beautiful orchestral music to Longview patrons. Seasonal concerts delight audiences with classical and popular music. Other special events include Bach’s Lunches, free lunchtime concerts at various downtown Longview churches.
Gushing with great music, the Theatre Longview Company brings unique musical entertainment to Longview via several performances a year. With diverse musical genres from Broadway to symphony, regional artists perform concerts covering opera/operetta, musical theatre, gospel and oratorio.
Located just a stone’s throw from Longview’s city limits is one of the nation’s premiere summer Shakespeare festivals hosted by Kilgore College. This renowned summer tradition brings a variety of high caliber stage productions and gifted actors to a local platform. From The Queen’s Tea to meet and greets with the actors, this is a fun and affordable departure from ordinary entertainment.
LongviewWOW is a creative, imaginative, and exploratory discovery center for children, designed to create a life-long love of learning. The educational environments offer hands-on discovery of Longview’s various career and technology fields through interactive play. Exhibits include Invention Garage, The Factor, The Market, Build-It, Build-It Jr., The House, and The Park, along with special events throughout the year. LongviewWOW.org
Every winter, outdoor enthusiasts descend on the Maude Cobb Convention Center for the highly anticipated Boat and RV Show, the largest boat and travel show east of I-35. With 30,000 square feet at their disposal, exhibitors show off the latest and greatest in the field of watercraft, recreational vehicles, and fishing and camping accessories. The Hayes RV Center Adventure Camp gives kids a hands-on outdoor living and demonstration experience.
Each year in April at the Maude Cobb Convention Center, the Crawfish Boil brings thousands of people together for music and amazing food. The Crawfish Boil, a fundraiser for the Harvest Festival livestock show and sale in October, provides scholarships to area 4H and FFA students.
Several times a year, downtown Longview galleries and businesses stay open late, and exhibit art on the sidewalk, for an after-hours event designed to showcase local art and artisans. ArtWalk provides an urban environment where many retail stores prop open the front door and offer special purchases to complement the live music and restaurant hopping. It’s family and pet-friendly fun.
Longview has a long history of inventors, builders, and makers. Explore factories to see how the world’s largest front-end loader is built and learn about other amazing stuff made in Longview. Free tours are provided on this special weekend at industries throughout Longview and give participants a chance to look behind the scenes at the technology that makes our city work.
A perennial favorite for antique hunters of all stripes, this event typically draws jewelry, carpet, and furniture vendors to the Maude Cobb Convention Center. One of the longest running antiques shows in East Texas, it also hosts a tearoom and its famous Pie Bar. Sponsored by the Zonta Club of Greater East Texas. zontaantiqueshow.com
One of the most prolific inventors of oil and earth-moving equipment, the museum contains personal memorabilia of R.G. LeTourneau (1888-1969). Scale models of many of his inventions, as well as the first offshore oil drilling platforms, are on display. Tours of the museum on the LeTourneau University campus are available and welcome with prior arrangement. letu.edu
An artistic venture begun by the Junior League of Longview in 1958, the LMFA has grown into one of Texas’ jewel boxes for modern and regional art, with over 700 pieces in its permanent collection. In downtown Longview, the repurposed facility has also been home to nationally treasured traveling exhibits, the annual Holiday Tea Room & Market, Breakfasts with Santa, spooky art shows, unplugged-style music sessions with artists from jazz, pop and blues, showcased events from regional artists, a plethora of art classes, quarterly family days, yoga sessions, corporate meetings, fundraisers of every type, and some of the classiest weddings this side of the Sabine. The much anticipated Magic & Mayhem annual fundraiser is held off-premises due to the ever-growing crowd. The cool, modern interior is ideal for wandering the curated rooms designed to complement the artistic talents of our current age. lmfa.org
A multi-faceted, one-day event with guest speakers, WILD is designed to uplift and inform women who are interested in making Longview better and celebrating those who do. womeninlongview.org
Presented by the East Texas Home Builders Association in May and November each year, this event showcases several beautiful new area homes. Visitors can learn about the latest home trends and admire the distinct craftsmanship presented by local builders. easttexasparade.com
Dog breeds from 38 states, Mexico, and Canada compete in the two-day Longview Kennel Club License All Breed Dog Show at the Maude Cobb Convention Center. This exciting and well-mannered, AKC-sanctioned event is great entertainment for children and adults.
Located just north of Longview, Carmela’s Magical Santa Land offers a free drive-thru Christmas wonderland each year from November through early January. This light show extravaganza is spread across a beautiful 30-acre property and has quickly become an East Texas holiday favorite. Carmela’s Magical Santa Land Facebook Page
Every October Longview gets spooky with hair-raising activities at various venues like the Haunted Library, Graystone Haunted Manor, Doc Wilkes House of Horrors, and Thomas Falls Outdoor Adventures’ Zip-lining with the Zombies.