The sight and sound of a balloon floating overhead is a cause for celebration in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, for shooting it down with a trusty slingshot means you'll get a present. But what presents are you likely to get? Do different colours drop different presents? How often do balloons spawn?
In this Animal Crossing balloon guide we present to you the answers to a few balloon-based questions you may have, as well as the data we've collected after shooting as many balloons as possible out of the sky and analysing their contents (and we're not talking about the Bunny Day balloons which gave us gusty nightmares from their incredible frequency).
Eyes to the skies!
Animal Crossing Balloon FAQ
How often do balloons spawn?
Thanks to Polygon and the reddit user glimmiette, we were able to confirm that balloons consistently spawn from one side of the map for roughly 12 hours before switching direction and coming from the other side. It seems this change happens every day around 6am and 6pm--that's what happens for us-- although some players report that this isn't the case for them.
Balloons appear to spawn on the fourth and ninth minute every 10-minute cycle, so think 5:04, 5:09, 5:14, 5:19 and so forth. That's up to 12 balloons an hour if you’re lucky. However, without the tiresome process of ensuring spawns by running to Nook's Cranny repeatedly, initiating a conversation and leaving before the clock hits xx:x4 or xx:x9 (as per Twitter user @Arumi_kai's method), we found balloons appearing more often every 10 or 15 minutes.
We would pass the time farming clams and fishing on the beach while waiting for the time to hit 8:24 or 8:29 and then run up and down the beach until we saw a balloon or until we deduced that one wasn’t spawning and we got on with something else.
How can I tell if there's a balloon nearby?
Obviously, scanning the horizon is one way to know if there's a balloon nearby, but the easiest way to to listen for them. A balloon is accompanied by the whistling sound of the breeze it's being carried on. If you’re wearing headphones or have a nice surround system connected to your TV, you’ll actually be able to hear the direction that the balloons are coming from, too, which makes hunting them down quickly a bit easier.
Is it just me or do balloons never spawn when I have friends visiting my island?
If you were hoping to do some balloon farming with your friends, unfortunately you’re be out of luck as balloons don't appear to spawn when your gate is open for online play. We’re not sure why is this case as balloon hunting and racing to recover the prize could be a fun activity for you and your friends, but Nintendo presumably has its reasons. Perhaps we can expect balloon competitions in a future update.
Does Feng Shui inside your house affect the balloon spawn rate?
While chatting with friends, the possibility that the Feng Shui of your home influences balloon output was bought up. In past games Feng Shui could affect your overall luck and the theory is that this might affect balloon spawn rates in New Horizons. Unfortunately, it would take significantly more research on this subject (or confirmation straight from the developers) to confirm if this is the case, so right now we can only wonder.
Balloon Colours - What do you get from different balloons?
As far as balloon colour in New Horizons goes, we did our best to track down as many balloons as we could with the time we had. We'll update the following data with any future discoveries we or the internet makes, but we managed to hit 77 balloons and document their contents. Here is what we learned from our studies presented with a breakdown of the data we harvested:
Yellow Balloons - prioritise Bells
- 34 Total Yellow Balloons shot down
- Bells - 24 times = approx. 70% Chance (1K Bells x5, 5K Bells x13, 10K Bells x4, 30K Bells x2)
- Furniture - 5 times (Skeleton, Safe, Punching Bag, Formal Paper, Upright Vacuum)
- Clothing - 3 times (Jumper Work Suit, Apron, College Cardigan)
- DIY Recipe - 2 times (Basket Pack, Light Bamboo Rug)
Note: We only ever got Bells from Yellow Balloons - none of the other colours dropped money.
Blue Balloons - prioritise Crafting Materials
- 18 Total Blue Balloons shot down
- Clay & Iron Nuggets - 9 times = 50% Chance (5xClay x6, 5xIron Nuggets x3)
- Furniture - 6 times (Gas Range, Rotary Phone, Dolly, Sand Castle, Record Box, Menu Chalk Board)
- Clothing - 3 times (Camo Bomber Jacket, Mariachi Clothing, Down Skirt)
- DIY Recipe - 0 times
Green Balloons - no clear prioritisation
- 16 Total Green Balloons shot down
- Clothing - 6 times (Jumper Work Suit, Striped Tights, Muay Thai Shorts, Gold Print Tee, Figure Skating Dress, Simple Visiting Kimono)
- DIY Recipe - 6 times (Sakura Flooring, Bamboo Steamer, Blossom Viewing Lantern, Basket Pack, Pan Flute, Bamboo Wand)
- Furniture - 4 times (Vintage TV Tray, Globe, Typewriter, Gears)
Red Balloons - Slight Furniture prioritisation (inconclusive)
- 9 Total Red Balloons shot down
- Furniture - 5 times = 55% Chance (Boxing Ring Corner, Garden Faucet, Cream & Sugar, Velvet Stool, Butterfly Fish Model)
- Clothing - 3 times (Round Tinted Shades, Football Helmet, Career Jacket)
- DIY Recipe - 1 time (Cherry Blossom Umbrella)
Animal Crossing: New Horizons Balloon Conclusions
So, after wearing out our slingshot, we can now say the following:
- Yellow Balloons are likely to give you bells
- Blue has the chance to drop resources
- Green appears to have no clear prioritisation
- Red appears to favour Furniture, although more data is needed
Before we started this guide we had plenty of ideas as to which balloons dropped which items. Was it based on their color? The cost of the item? The time of day it dropped? As you can see above, none of that really seems to be the case, although we still have theories we'd like to test. For example, one thing we're curious about is if it’s possible that green or red balloons possibly give you new items that you’ve never had in your possession before (much like how Wisp can give you an item you’ve never had before).
Rest assured we'll update this guide with any new information as it surfaces, or falls from the sky. In the meantime, happy balloon hunting!
This article is part of our Animal Crossing: New Horizons walkthrough, which includes a Complete Fish List, Complete Bug List and Complete Sea Creatures List. If you're looking for specific fish or bug, we can tell you how to catch the elusive Coelacanth, Mahi-Mahi, Giant Trevally, Stringfish, Golden Trout and all the Sharks and Beetles, along with a full list of Critters leaving at the end of the month. We've also compiled a Complete Villager List and a Complete List of K.K. Slider Songs, as well as the Best Custom Design Codes and Islands we've found so far, and the best islands to visit using Dream Address Codes.
We can also help with How to Spot Redd's Fake Paintings and Statues, How to Make Bells Fast, How to Breed Flowers, How to Get more DIY Recipes, How to Upgrade Nook's Cranny, where and when to find special characters like Gulliver, Sable, Label, Wisp, Celeste, Pirate Gulliver and Jack, plus tips on using the Star Wand, Tool Ring, Rock Trick, Cutting Down and Moving Trees, using amiibo on Harv's Island, How to Back Up Your Island Data, How to Time Travel, How to Get a 5-Star Island Rating and a whole lot more.
And finally Where to Buy Animal Crossing: New Horizons on Nintendo Switch if for some reason you haven't yet picked up the game.