Looking to be taken to new heights with some of the best hot air balloon festivals in the USA? Then you’ve come to the right place.
The USA is renowned for hosting tons of great music festivals, but have you ever considered attending a hot air balloon festival?
Watching a hot air balloon ascend into the sky is quite a spectacular sight, but it’s even more magical when hundreds of them take off and fill the sky simultaneously. Hot air balloon festivals celebrate this unique mode of transport and bring together people of all ages.
You may be wondering, which hot air balloon festivals are near me? Keep reading to discover the best ones in your state or a state near you.
1) Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta
When: October 1-9, 2022
Where: Albuquerque, New Mexico
Bringing together more than 900 000 visitors over nine days, the Albuquerque International Music Fiesta is the biggest hot air balloon festival in the USA. This exciting festival features over 600 balloons in all sorts of shapes, themes, and characters.
The backdrop of this thrilling event is the incredible Sandia Mountains and New Mexico desert. Each day starts at around 6 am, and if you’re an early bird, you can watch as the sun rises and fills up with hundreds of balloons.
If early mornings are not your thing, you can always watch as the balloons take to the air at sunset. Both occasions will provide you with excellent photo opportunities. Throughout the day, the festival is lined up with an exciting array of activities; from flying competitions to individual rides.
There are also a ton of vendors selling all sorts of tasty foods, gifts, and clothing. This New Mexico hot air balloon festival also features live entertainment, car shows, and a firework show.
2) Colorado Springs Labor Day Lift Off
When: September 3-5, 2022
Where: Colorado Springs, Colorado
Taking Place in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, the Colorado Springs Labor Day Lift Off is a hot air balloon event you will not want to miss. Each year on Labor Day, around 70 balloons take to the sky between 7 and 9 am in majestic fashion.
This event has taken place in Colorado Springs for the past 40 years and draws thousands of visitors to its ground each year. Compared to other hot air balloon festivals in the USA, this one is relatively small.
But that doesn’t mean that it’s short of entertainment and beautiful scenery. Watching the balloons fly over the Rocky Mountains and its surrounding area is really quite a spectacle to behold. So don’t forget to pack in your camera to capture some unforgettable memories.
Its additional events include a hot air balloon race, a donut eating competition, and a sky diving contest. Since Colorado Springs is a popular outdoor destination, visitors can also enjoy stand-up paddleboarding and wakeboarding in the nearby Prospect Lake. There are also numerous biking and hiking trails.
After a full day of fun, you can stand back and watch as the balloons take to the sky again, or, join the ride.
3) Teton Valley Balloon Rally
When: July 1-4, 2022
Where: Driggs, Idaho
There’s no better place to spend Independence Day than at the Teton Valley Balloon Rally. With the amazing Teton Mountains as the backdrop, this hot air balloon festival takes place over three days and provides top-class entertainment.
This festival has been taking place for about 40 years and features about 15 to 20 balloons. Each day begins with an early morning ascent. You can watch as the pilots and crew prepare the balloons for take-off, then watch them ascend into the sky as the first rays of light appear.
What’s great about this festival is that you can camp on the grounds where the balloon festival will be held, so you’ll be close to all the exciting action. Start the day off by grabbing some pancakes and other delicious food and prepare to be blown away.
If you’re keen for some thrilling action, you can pre-book tickets to enjoy a hot air balloon ride. Throughout the day, you’ll enjoy various activities on the Driggs grounds like parades, a fiddlers contest, and much more.
To end off the weekend you can catch the exciting 4th of July fireworks display to celebrate Independence Day.
4) New Jersey Lottering Festival of Ballooning
When: July 29-31, 2022
Where: Reading, New Jersey
This epic event in New Jersey is highly regarded as one of the best hot air balloon festivals in the USA. Running for nearly 40 years, it attracts over 100 000 people each year. It takes place every year on the 744-acre grounds of the Solberg Airport in Readington.
This festival is one of the biggest events in New Jersey, taking place during the summer, and featuring over 100 balloons. Here, you’ll find all sorts of balloons, including giant pandas, astronauts, and emoji-themed ones.
Each day starts with a morning take-off and ends with an evening ascent and descent. There are also plenty of other activities to enjoy including concerts, a 5k race, and food and craft stalls to explore.
What makes this festival unique is that you can book a VIP experience. This will include perks like front seats to balloon take-offs, front row concert seats, access to private parties, and a sunrise brunch.
You can end the day off by watching the balloons take off into the night sky, followed by a grand fireworks show.
5) Temecula Valley Balloon & Wine Festival
When: June 3-5, 2022
Where: Lake Skinner, California
Picture this. You’re staying in a luxurious Airbnb in Temecula Valley, California’s wine country. You’re about to attend one of the most romantic festivals in the valley and have a good time.
No, it’s not a dream. This could be you having the time of your life at the Temecula Valley Balloon & Wine Festival. It is one of the coolest hot air balloon festivals in California and should definitely not be missed.
The festival takes place in the picturesque landscapes of the Lake Skinner Recreation Area and a number of stunning vineyards. This epic three-day festival combines the best hot air balloon experiences with some of the best food and wine in California.
In the morning, you can enjoy a balloon ride, or watch as the balloons take off. Then, throughout the day, you can enjoy wine tasting and sample wines and craft beers from over 20 wineries.
Pair your wine tasting with an array of delicious cuisine from over 100 vendors. If you’re not keen on drinking or taking to the sky, you can always enjoy some of the wine barrel races or live concerts. Or just soak in the atmosphere.
In the evening, you can watch the balloon glow show as a number of hot air balloons take to the sky just before sunset.
6) Great Forest Park Balloon Race
When: September (TBA)
Where: St. Louis, Missouri
The Great Forest Park Festival is the second-oldest hot air balloon festival in the USA and will celebrate its 50th edition in September 2022. For the last 50 years, it has been attracting over 100 000 people to St. Louis for a weekend of fun.
And the best part? Due to the event’s generous main sponsor, PNC Bank, it is completely free to attend. The only thing you’ll need to pay for is your food and drinks.
The event usually starts on Friday evening when thousands gather to enjoy live entertainment, a variety of delicious foods, and the balloon glow that starts just before the sunsets.
The following day features hot air balloon races, an exciting skydiving performance, and an air race between over 70 experienced pilots. The day ends off with crowning the winner and more entertainment.
On the final day, you can rise up early and watch as the balloons once again take off. Then to close off the event, a wonderful firework show will be on display bidding farewell to the thousands of guests in attendance. If you’re in St. Louis around September be sure not to miss this cool event.
7) Great Reno Balloon Race
When: September 9-11, 2022
Where: Reno, Nevada
The Great Reno Balloon Race is one of the biggest hot air balloon events in the world. It attracts over 140 000 people a year from all around the globe. If you love hot air balloons, then you’ll enjoy this event. And the great thing is – admission is totally free thanks to its sponsors.
The event has humble beginnings starting off with a mere 20 balloons in 1982. Today more than 100 balloons can be viewed over the three-day event. Each day starts off bright and early when a few balloons rise up into the dark just before sunrise.
You can sign up for an early morning ride or just stand back and watch this marvelous display. Throughout the day there are numerous activities that can be enjoyed by everyone.
Some highlights of the Great Reno Race include the world’s biggest pyjama party, Balloon Black Jack, and the tissue paper hot air balloon launch. The toilet paper launch is the perfect event for kids, as they can show off their creative side. It features a number of balloon creations in all shapes, sizes, and colors made completely out of toilet paper.
There’s also the Balloon Boulevard where you’ll find numerous food vendors and stalls selling gifts and souvenirs.
8) National Balloon Classic
When: Indianola, Iowa
Where: July 29 – August 6, 2022
The National Balloon Classic is one of the longest hot air balloon shows in the USA. It’s an exciting nine-day event that has been taking place in Indianola for the past 40 years. The opening night starts off with an evening take-off followed by a fireworks show.
Every day, over 100 colorful balloons paint a majestic picture in the sky as they float around the Indianola area. There’s also plenty to enjoy on the ground where you can watch balloon races, skydiving demonstrations, and even a 5k race. There’s a stage featuring various live performances and food vendors serving up tasty treats.
While you’re here, check out the National Balloon Museum where you can learn more about the history of hot air balloons and view artifacts and exhibitions. In the evenings, you can watch as the balloons prepare to take off for the balloon glow. On the final night, this exciting event will be closed off with a cracking firework display.
9) Havasu Balloon Festival and Fair
Where: Lake Havasu City, Arizona
When: January 19-23, 2023
Voted as one of the best hot air balloon festivals in Arizona, the Havasu Balloon Festival and Fair is one of the best events that you can attend in the state. Set against the stunning scenery of Lake Havasu and the peaks of the rugged Mohave Mountains, this event is quite exciting.
The festival takes place yearly over a weekend in late January. Every day starts off with an early morning ascension at around 6 am. After that, the funfair begins. Here you can enjoy live music, carnival rides, and all the delicious foods and treats associated with fairs.
There are also numerous vendors selling cute arts and crafts. As evening approaches, enjoy basking in the glow of 100s of hot air balloons.
Am I Missing Any Amazing Hot Air Balloon Festivals?
This is a whole type of festival that is so exciting to visit, and I’m sure there are a ton more epic hot air balloon festivals across the country, I’d love to learn about some more. So please do reach out if you know of any others!
Looking for More Exciting Festivals and Things to do in the USA?
The USA is filled with a range of exciting things to do and places to stay. Check out some of my other articles to help you plan your next trip:
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