Picture this; the sky is clear, the evening is crisp, the sun is just at the perfect angle, right after afternoon but just before dawn, and the cool summer breeze hits your face as you take a look down and to the horizon. That is what traversing the cool summer sky in a hot air balloon feels like. Though it is pretty much enjoyable all-round the year, especially in places whose weather is not capricious during the transition from summer to winter, ask any hot air balloon aficionado, and they will tell you that summer, especially around September, is the sweet spot when it comes to ballooning. It thus should come as no surprise then that September is the month that holds the most hot-air balloon festivals in the United States. There is a plethora of them, and if you are a dilettante and haven't attended any one of them, it may prove to be a bit of an onerous task to know which festivals are the best.
20. The Winnemucca Balloon Festival in Winnemucca, Nevada
If you attend the Winnemucca Balloon Festival, you can be assured that there will be beautiful glow shows in the morning and evening that will be waiting for you. Though compared to other festivals, this one has a handful of balloons. You can be assured that they are more than sufficient when it comes to lighting up the festival.
19. The All Ohio Balloon Fest in Ohio
This regional event even features some of the most entertaining things you will have to see. It comes with more than 35 air balloons gliding in the blue sky, helicopter rides, live music, skydivers, Kidz City, food, drinks, and is brimming with inflatables. In addition to the mesmerizing balloon launches, there will also glow, as well as a 5K walk and run, depending on your preference.
18. The National Balloon Classic in Iowa, Indiana
To be part and parcel of the National Balloon Classic, you will have to take a trip, unless you already live there, to Iowa, Indiana. The event offers Dawn Patrol, fireworks, balloon rides, contests, bands, and night flights. It even has a Kid Lands for the small ones, with music to liven up the atmosphere.
17. The Teton Valley Balloon Rally in Driggs, Idaho
If you are looking for a nice place to relax and enjoy the summer in July, there is no better place than the Teton Valley Balloon Rally. It is a unique four-day balloon festival featuring hot air balloons and a fiddling contest, public balloon rides, and an Independence Day parade. The jagged peaks of the Tetons make this particular even such scenic beauty, which is why so many people go to it every year.
16. US Bank Great BalloonFest, in Kentucky Exposition Center, Louisville.
The 16 US Bank Great BalloonFest takes place every year between the 25 and the 27 of April, and it is one of the best and most exciting events in Louisville. The traditional Balloon Rush Hour, an alliteration of the Hare and Hound race, is the hallmark of the event. The event also has the balloon glimmer and glow showcasing.
15. Temecula Valley Balloon and Wine Festival in Lake Skinner Recreational Area, California
This festival is best known for its lovely wines and lovelier climate for hot air ballooning. Offering a mix of morning glows, balloon tethers, pony riding, wine tasting, face painting, and a commercial court teeming with food vendors, this isn't one to miss.
14. The Colorado Spring Labor Day Lift Off in Memory Park, Colorado
If you find yourself free between August the 31st and September the 2nd, according to Town and Tourist, make sure that you pay a visit to the hot air balloon festival in Memorial Park, Colorado. Besides the balloons, you will be able to go wakeboarding or paddleboarding in Prospect Lake, where you can take off some of that summer heat. Additionally, you can try your luck in the Doughnut Eating Contest or the chainsaw carving competition.
13. The Balloon Glow Tour, traveling city to city
There is a balloon glow event in pretty much every hot air balloon festival that we have highlighted, where the hot air balloons are tethered to the ground and lit up from within to resemble floating fireflies. With the Balloon Glow tour, this is actually the main event of the whole thing. It is not located in one city but travels from one place to another, like St. Louis, Atlanta, and Raleigh. So, check if they are making a stop in your city or a city near you.
12. Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, New Mexico
This is the mother of all balloon festivals. It is the oldest and largest of the bunch; it recently reclaimed the Guinness World Record for a single launch of hot air balloons, 524, in 2019, according to Travel Channel. Running for nine whole days, it comes with a chainsaw carving exhibition, balloon glows, skydiving, mass ascensions, and the most popular event is the Special Shape Rodeo. Near the launching, sire is the Balloon Museum, which details the history of hot air balloon flights from as early as 1783, and it mostly focuses on the history of hot air balloons in Albuquerque. Admission is 15 dollars per person.
11. Adirondack Balloon Festival, in Queensbury, New York.
The Adirondack Balloon Festival brings together more than 150,000 people in Glen Falls, New York. It kicks off with a block party with live music, then candlestick balloon torch firing, and then the balloon even, which includes the special shapes and a regular drive-through moonglow, where you will be able to roll past 40 balloons that are tethered, and all fired up. They have also added a live band and a fireworks display, so you are guaranteed the time of your life. Admission is free.
10. Ravenna Balloon-A-Fair in Ravenna, Ohio
The Oak Rubber Company existed in Ravenna from 1917 and 1993, and in its day, it was one of the largest tory rubber balloon companies in the country. Today, in memory and celebration, the town holds the Ravenna Balloon-A-Fair, which combines adult parades, float-filled children, a community breakfast, amusement rides, helicopter rides, fireworks, and such. Admission is free.
9. Autumn Aloft in Park City, Utah
The Autumn Aloft itinerary is a very simple one; the spectators will be able to watch the launch of 24 hot air balloons in the morning, and in the evening, there will be a candlestick walk, where, in downtown Park City, balloon torches are fired up in the dark of night. Admission is free, and if you want to get up close and personal with the hot air balloons, you will be able to do so since they will be looking for volunteers, according to Visit The USA.
8. Lancaster Hot Air Balloon Festival in Bird-in-Hand, Pennsylvania
For three days every year, Bird-in-Hand Pennsylvania is home to some of the unique hot air balloons in the world. At the Lancaster Hot Air Balloon Festival, you will not only see a myriad of fireworks and watch some magic shows but you will also be treated to some of the most talented up-and-coming singers that the state of Pennsylvania has to offer. You will, for 300 dollars, be able to take a ride in the aforementioned balloons and learn some of the Amish cultures from people that live in the area. Admission is between 10 and 40 dollars.
7. The Great Forest Park Balloon Race, in St. Louis, Missouri
The Great Forest Park Balloon Race has been a tradition of St. Louis since 1973 and is the second oldest, only behind Albuquerque's hot air balloon festival. It is set in the metropolitan St. Louis, where more than 150,000 spectators, annually and over two days. Here, you will get up close and personal with the balloon glow, as well as watch the skydivers, the DJs, and an actual race where the winner is determined by dropping a beanbag at a predetermined target. It is as much mesmerizing as it is enjoyable. Admission is free.
6. Balloons over Bay Harbor in Bay Harbor, Michigan
Although a bit nascent compared to the other festivals, Balloons over Bay Harbor makes up for it by offering some of the best and coolest visuals, you will ever see. The hot air balloons float over Little Traverse Bay in Lake Michigan, reflecting the light in the cool, still waters. It even offers daytime flights, pilot and crew meet-and-greets, and nighttime glows on the marina lawn.
5. Paris Balloon & Music Festival in Paris, Texas
The fun is in the name in this case. At the Paris Balloon & Music Festival, you will, for 25o dollars, be given a chance to float around and enjoy some scenic beauties. You can also decide to watch while enjoying some food and great music while doing so. The event features evening balloon glows, morning launches, live music, and tethered balloon rides. As is always the case in Texas, there is a burger cook-off, so you will have a chance to prove your culinary skills if you want.
4. The Snowmass Balloon Festival in Snowmass Village, Colorado
For more than 40 years, there has been a tradition in the Rocky Mountain, which began when more than 30 regular balloons were launched into the sky every day. Here, you will have the chance to be a bit active, as spectators are encouraged to hike or bile along the Snowmass trail to the site of the launch. If that is not for you, there are parking and gazing spots, where you will see exactly what is happening. The field is open to the public, and thus after the hike, you can warm yourself. Admission is free.
3. The Stratobowl Historic Hot Air Balloon Launch in Rapid City, South Dakota
In 1935 the Army Air Corps and the National Geographic Society made history in South Dakota when they launched a high altitude human-crewed balloon flight that reached the stratosphere. Thus, each year, to make the occasion, the state of South Dakota organizes for hot air balloon pilots a bowl, now called the Stratobowl, to celebrate this achievement. You can decide to either watch ten balloons float up to the rim of the bowl or, for a price of 325 dollars per adult, lift yourself above the cliffs, rugged terrain, and probably even see Mount Rushmore. Admission is free.
2. The Great Reno Balloon Race in Reno, Nevada.
The Great Reno Balloon Race has been on for forty years, and it is thus said to be the longest-running hot air balloon event in the world. It is also where they pulled off a balloon Blackjack, so you know you are bound for some entertainment. The three-day event includes a 5 am glow show, where the balloons are tethered and lit from within, followed by a dawn patrol with music and dancing. There are up to 100 hot air balloons, which is more than enough for everyone.
1. Queechee Balloon Festival in Queechee, Vermont
The Queechee balloon festival is the longest-running hot air balloon extravaganza in New England and it is no surprise then that people from not only the united states but also the world chrome there enjoy the merriment. The hot air balloons rise above the scenic mountains and gorges that make up the Upper Valley of Vermont and New Hampshire. The balloons go in five flights, which each flight is up to 20 hot air balloons deep. While on the ground, you can pick up a couple of souvenirs from more than 50 artisans and also check out one-person variety show Steve Corning, as well as the Burlington-based From Africa to Vermont. You can also decide to hang out and have a beer or glass of wine on the grass. Either way, you cannot go wrong. Admission is fifteen dollars per person.
Written by Liz Flynn
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