Taking to the skies has always been a modern marvel characterized by exhilaration and discovery. One of the most peaceful (and colorful) ways to get a bird’s eye view and defy the laws of gravity is to float at great heights in a hot air balloon. It’s hard to think of a more breathtaking setting, with many marriage proposals artfully executed at sunrise while taking in the sights below. Hot air ballooning has been the focus of festivals and rallies all over the country with enthusiasts flocking from all over the world to view skies alive with color.
Northwest Art & Air Festival – Albany, Oregon August 25-27, 2023
If you find yourself in Albany, Oregon in late August then head over to the Timber Linn Memorial Park for the Northwest Art & Air Festival. Along with hot air balloons there are art vendors, food stands, a car show, and live music. Admission is free but there is a fee for parking.
National Balloon Classic – Indianola, Iowa July 28–August 5, 2023
Over 100 balloons will dot the skies at the National Balloon Classic and bring color and joy to all ages. Balloon pilots compete in flying competitions to win prizes and championship titles, plus there are fireworks, kite flying events, live entertainment, and aerial shows. Note: Tickets must be purchased online because no tickets will be sold at the gate.
Fall River Hot Air Balloon Fest – Hot Springs, South Dakota August 25-27, 2023
Located at various sites around Hot Springs, South Dakota, the Fall River Hot Air Balloon Fest boasts a farmer’s market, a walk-in balloon event, a fun run, and multiple “glow” events (with lit balloons during evening hours) throughout the weekend. There will also be food vendors and activities at some of the event sites. Admission is free.
Plano Balloon Festival – Plano, Texas
September 21–24, 2023
Take a trip to northeast Texas to attend the Plano Balloon Festival at Oak Point Park. This 4-day event features sky diving exhibitions, a kids fun zone, music performances on the main stage, and a spectacular fireworks display.
Note: The event is cashless so be sure to bring alternate forms of payment. See the website for more information.
Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta – Albuquerque, New Mexico October 7–15, 2023
The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is world renowned for its events such as the mass ascension (where all participating balloons launch into the sky at once), the drone light show, “glow” displays, and many more activities that are planned throughout the 9-day balloon extravaganza. Along with the traditionally shaped balloons, there will be character balloons and other uniquely shaped balloons to view. Admission is charged for events so check out the schedule and general information for more details.
Suncook Valley Rotary Club Hot Air Balloon Rally – Pittsfield, New Hampshire August 4–6, 2023
For over 40 years the Suncook Valley Rotary Hot Air Balloon Rally has delighted crowds from far and wide. Although not as large as other hot air balloon events around the country, there are still so many things to do and see while attending the rally - a craft fair, river raft regatta, helicopter rides, and tethered hot air balloon rides.
Admission is free; however, there are fees for helicopter rides and tethered balloon rides.
Crown of Maine Balloon Fest – Presque Isle, Maine August 24–27, 2023
Join the friendly folks of northern Maine in Presque Isle for the Crown of Maine Balloon Fest. Most of the events are located at the Northern Maine Fairgrounds and feature a craft fair, children’s activities, hot air balloon rides (both free flight and tethered), and live music.
Carolina BalloonFest – Statesville, North Carolina October 20–22, 2023
Hailed as the “second longest (consecutively) held balloon event” in the country, the Carolina BalloonFest started in 1974 and is rich in ballooning history. Along with mass ascensions and glow events, there are skydiving exhibitions, an artisan fair, a NC wine and craft beer garden, and fun for all ages.
Spirit of Boise Balloon Classic – Boise, Idaho August 30–September 3, 2023
The Spirit of Boise Balloon Classic is held annually at Ann Morrison Park and has been a source of pride in Boise since 1991. The featured events include a “Nite Glow Spectacular,” a day for kids to take a free tethered ride and learn all about the balloons, and various other activities throughout the 5-day schedule. The event website also posts some great tips on attending the balloon events such as what to wear for early morning launches, avoiding bringing pets (not for the reasons you think), and some safety tips to name a few.
Colorado Springs Labor Day Lift Off – Colorado Springs, Colorado September 2 – 4, 2023
With the Rocky Mountains as a backdrop, the Colorado Springs Labor Day Lift Off paints a picturesque scene in the Colorado sky. The 3-day event has exciting activities and experiences such as remote-control balloon displays, aerial acrobats, evening glow events, a concert series, and the third day is dedicated as a military appreciation day. Plus, check out the family rodeo zone which will be sure to provide humor and delight!
We hope this inspires you to plan a trip to one of our featured hot air balloon festivals, or to a hot air balloon event near you. Have you ever attended one? If so, tell us about it by dropping us a line at WinniWanderer@winni.com. Hearing from you will make our day!
____________________________________________________________ By Staff Contributor ____________________________________________________________