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Festivals

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What Is a Hot Air Balloon Festival?

By Lori Kilchermann
Updated: May 23, 2024

A hot air balloon festival is a celebration of hot air ballooning and all it entails, including mass balloon launches and tethered balloon rides. Festivals can range in size from just a few hot air balloons to more than 100, and festival lengths vary from a few hours to several days. Often, a hot air balloon festival will feature events such as night glows, balloon ascensions and fireworks. The events also typically include parades, dances and food.

Balloon night glows are a stunning festival attraction at many festivals. The balloons' burners are fired to light up the balloon so it glows and looks like a giant, floating ornament. The annual White Sands Balloon Invitational in White Sands, New Mexico, begins with a balloon launch at sunrise and features a balloon glow about 30 minutes after sundown.

Wine, art and music are some of the many attractions which can be featured at a hot air balloon festival. The Nebraska Balloon and Wine Festival in Omaha, Nebraska, showcases award-winning wines. The Shenandoah Valley Hot Air Balloon, Wine and Music Festival features wine tasting, lawnmower races and a classic car show.

A larger hot air balloon festival is the European Balloon Festival. It is held annually in July in Igualada, Spain and features nearly 60 balloons. The four-day hot air balloon festival is one of the largest in Europe and even offers festival-goers an opportunity to fly on a balloon.

Sometimes a hot air balloon festival is used as a fundraiser for a charity and features activities designed to generate money for the organization. Proceeds from the annual Huff n Puff Hot Air Balloon Rally in Topeka, Kansas, benefit the Ronald McDonald House. The event features a mass balloon launch and tethered rides, as well as a kids' workshop for fourth through sixth graders. The workshop teaches kids how balloon operators control balloons, the physics of how hot air rises and offers a chance to make and fly miniature balloons.

Often times, a hot air balloon festival is held in conjunction with another event, such as an annual fair or music festival. The Quechee Hot Air Balloon, Craft and Music Festival in Quechee, Vermont features entertainment and arts and crafts by local artists. The Patterson Apricot Fiesta and Balloon Meet in Patterson, California, features a parade, baking contest and a Little Mister and Miss Apricot pageant. Hot air balloon races are another event that is often part of a hot air balloon festival.

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Discussion Comments
By SarahSon — On Nov 18, 2011

@myharley - I have been able to take a ride in a hot air balloon, and it is every bit as beautiful as you imagine it would be.

There is a hot air balloon festival every August near my home town. For years I would watch these balloons and take hot air balloon pictures from the ground.

A friend of mine began volunteering to help at the festival, and said there was a chance he would also be able to ride in one of the balloons.

That is all I needed to hear, as I signed up to volunteer the next year. It was quite an awesome experience just being that close to the balloons on the ground as they were getting ready to take off.

On the last day of the festival, I finally got my chance to go up in one for a ride. I can see why this is something that these people love spending their time and money on. I was a little nervous at first, but once we got going, it was one of the most relaxing things I have ever done.

The pictures I took from up in the balloon were just as beautiful as the ones I took standing on the ground.

By myharley — On Nov 18, 2011

My grandparents live close to a hot air balloon festival in Virginia. This is held every fall, and they can sit outside on the lawn and watch hundreds of beautiful hot air balloons float by.

When I have been visiting them during this time, I like to attend the actual festival. Not only do they have the hot air balloons, but there is something for everyone.

Because this is in the fall, the festival has hayrides for kids, and a pumpkin patch to pick your own pumpkin. There are antique cars for the guys to look at, and wine for the adults to enjoy.

When you see the hot air balloons in the air, with the beautiful trees on the Blue Ridge mountains in the background, it is stunning. The leaves are usually at their peak of color, and I can only imagine what the view is like from up inside one of the balloons.

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