One of the many quirks to island life in Animal Crossing: New Horizons is that balloons carrying presents will periodically float overhead. These balloon gifts can contain a variety of items, from crafting materials to bells to rare DIY recipes, and you can even farm balloons to get the gifts you want–provided you have some patience. While there’s no specific way to get balloons to spawn on your island, there are specific times and locations they’ll spawn. Below we detail where and when you can look for balloons, what you can expect to get from them, and more.
For more Animal Crossing tips, be sure to check out our lists of all the fish and bugs you can catch in the game. For even more advanced tips, check out our full turnip stalk market guide and our guide to terraforming.
Balloon Basics: How To Pop Balloons
As you go about your business you may see a balloon floating by–or you might hear it first, since balloons have a windy sort of sound to them. When you encounter a balloon, pull out your slingshot–which you can craft yourself or buy at Nook’s Cranny–line yourself up underneath the balloon, and shoot. If your aim is correct, the balloon will pop and the gift will fall to the ground.
Be careful about where you shoot balloons, though. If you pop a balloon while it’s floating over water, you run the risk of the gift falling into the water and disappearing. The gift can also disappear if it falls in a patch of flowers or weeds that’s too big for it to safely bounce out of–there needs to be at least one free space in the vicinity for it to land in, including spaces covered in paths so long as they don’t have any furniture or other items on them.
Types Of Balloon Gifts And Balloon Color
There are four colors of regular balloons: red, yellow, green, and blue. These balloons can contain a variety of items, including:
FurnitureClothing and accessoriesCrafting materials (ex. clay)Bags of bells (amount varies)DIY recipes
You may have heard that the color of the balloon determines what’s in its gift–that yellow balloons always contain bells, for example–but that’s not true, at least with the normal balloons. While we can’t be sure that it’s completely random, it’s absolutely possible to get furniture from a yellow balloon instead of bells (for instance), and you shouldn’t ignore certain colors if you’re hoping to get a specific type of item.
There are some event balloons, however, like the striped Bunny Day balloons you may have seen in the beginning of April, that only contain event-related items. In this case, it’s fair to assume that color determines what’s in the gift!
How To Get The Golden Slingshot
There is one other type of balloon, and it’s ultra-rare. This golden balloon contains a special DIY recipe for a golden slingshot. It’s one of several golden tools you can acquire in the game, and while it still breaks, it lasts a lot longer than your average slingshot.
It appears that the golden balloon doesn’t appear until after you’ve popped over 300 other balloons. Once you unlock that Nook Miles reward, keep your eyes on the skies!
When And Where Balloons Spawn
If you’re wondering how to get balloons to your island, we haven’t yet tested any methods to force spawn conditions for them the way players do when they farm tarantulas. Luckily, it’s pretty simple to determine when a balloon will appear, so you won’t have to spend all your time looking upward if you’re trying to get balloon gifts. You just have to know the spawn rules.
First, balloons always spawn from the edge of the screen and will come in from over the ocean. Depending on the orientation of your island, they’ll come in from one direction during the day (5 AM to 6 PM) and the other direction at night (6 PM to 5 AM). For example, my island is left-oriented–the pier is on the left side of my island–so balloons spawn from right to left in the morning and from left to right at night. It seems to be the reverse for island layouts in which the pier is on the right side, but if you aren’t sure, just keep an eye out for a balloon and see which direction it’s headed.
Second, balloons only spawn at certain times–specifically any time ending in either 0 or 5. (While the balloon might technically spawn at a time ending in 4 or 9, it’ll still be over the ocean and out of reach, so we’re going with the easier-to-remember numbers). In our tests, balloons spawned every 10 minutes on average, but we saw gaps as low as five minutes and as high as 20 minutes. For example, during an hour of our tests, we found balloons at 2:55, 3:00, 3:05, 3:25, 3:40, and 4:00 PM.
Event balloons follow these same spawn patterns (times and location), but they don’t replace regular balloons and can show up either at the same time as a regular one or on their own. Based on the Bunny Day balloons, it seems that event balloons also make a louder whooshing sound than normal ones.
How To Farm Balloons
Because balloons are a main source for seasonal DIY recipes (like the rare cherry blossom recipes or bamboo DIYs in spring) and other handy items, there are times when you might want to grind out balloons until you get what you want. If you follow the spawn rules above, it’s easy to do as long as you’re patient.
After you’ve determined which direction balloons spawn from on your island, we recommend waiting at the bottom of your beach until a time ending in 4 or 9. At this point, you should walk up the shore with the sky visible and look for a balloon over the ocean. If you still don’t see one when you reach the top of the beach, walk back down the shore and check as you go. If no balloon has shown up after a minute, wait a few minutes and check again at the spawn time.
If you’re having trouble spotting balloons, try adjusting your camera using the right analog stick so you can get a better view of the sky. You’ll have to stop walking in order to view the sky this way, as your camera will reorient itself when you move, but it can be a good way to spot balloons that you can hear but can’t see.
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