There’s nothing more magical than seeing hundreds of hot air balloons gracefully floating through the air. Hot air balloon festivals are the perfect place to learn more about these whimsical vehicles, meet their pilots, and take a ride.
While there are hundreds of hot air balloon festivals across the United States, these 12 offer the most stunning scenery, the most balloons, and the maximum amount of fun for the whole family.
Check out these 12 amazing hot air balloon festivals all across the United States.
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International Balloon Festival – Albuquerque, NM
The International Balloon Festival draws more than 900,000 visitors, 600 pilots, and 500 balloons to Albuquerque, NM, for this nine-day celebration of hot air ballooning. This festival is the largest hot air balloon festival in the United States and takes place every October. It also includes fireworks displays, laser shows, concerts, and kids’ activities.
Teton Valley Balloon Rally – Driggs, ID
Celebrate the Fourth of July with hundreds of hot air balloons at the Teton Valley Balloon Rally in Idaho. You can camp next to the festival with the majestic Teton Mountains as a backdrop for the duration of the festival. Enjoy dawn balloon launches from the comfort of your campsite and then join other festival goers for pancake breakfasts, fiddling contests, and Independence Day parades throughout the festival.
National Balloon Classic – Indianola, IA
This nine-day festival is the longest running balloon festival in the Midwest. While you can enjoy traditional balloon festival events such as dawn launches and pilot races, the National Balloon Classic also has night glow events where you can see the balloons illuminated against the night sky. If you’re looking for a land-based activity, you can also enjoy a themed 5k race.
New Jersey Lottery Festival of Ballooning – Readington, NJ
Want to see iconic bands play alongside some of the most unique hot air balloons around? Head to New Jersey’s largest summertime hot air ballooning and music festival in North America.
In addition to a 110-ft panda-shaped hot air balloon, previous musical acts performing at the festival include the Barenaked Ladies and the Jonas Brothers.
Hudson Valley Hot Air Balloon Festival – Union Vale, NY
This Labor Day festival in upstate New York is all about air-based activities. With the unpredictable New York weather, festival organizers make sure there are plenty of activities that aren’t weather dependent. If the wind is too high for true hot-air ballooning, you can take a helicopter ride or go up in a tethered balloon.
Colorado Springs Labor Day Lift-Off – Colorado Springs, CO
The Labor Day Lift Off festival is one of the smaller hot air balloon festivals on this list with only 70 or so balloons in attendance each year. However, the stunning backdrop of the Rocky Mountains makes this festival a must-attend for nature lovers as well as balloon lovers.
Temecula Valley Balloon & Wine Festival – Lake Skinner, CA
This unique festival combines the best of California food and wine alongside breathtaking balloon launches set against the backdrop of Lake Skinner. The three-day festival includes tastings from more than 20 California wineries, craft beer vendors, delicious food, and live music on the Wine Stage.
Great Forest Park Balloon Race – St. Louis, MO
The Great Forest Park Balloon Race is the second-oldest balloon festival in the United States and is another free festival on this list. Attracting more than 100,000 people in St. Louis, the festival includes sky diving demonstrations, balloon races, night glow launches, and local food trucks.
The Great Reno Balloon Race – Reno, NV
The Great Reno Balloon Race claims the title of the quirkiest balloon festival on this list, as well as the largest free balloon festival in the United States. More than 140,000 people flock to Reno for this free gathering of more than 100 balloons. Attendees can also play Balloon Blackjack, make their own E.L. cord tissue paper hot air balloons, and join in with the world’s largest pajama party.
Havasu Balloon Festival and Fair – Lake Havasu, AZ
Unlike the other festivals, this Arizona festival takes place every January, giving you a colorful way to break up bleak winters. This festival has been voted the best balloon festival in Arizona and includes two daily balloon launches, including a night glow launch. Enjoy the dawn launch from a boat in the middle of Lake Havasu, and then spend the day enjoying carnival rides, music, and delicious food vendors.
Paris Balloon & Music Festival – Paris, TX
Combine your love of BBQ with your love of hot air balloons with this classic Texas hot air balloon festival. Enjoy daily balloon launches of this three-day festival, along with live painting competitions as well as the opportunity to ride in the popular “Airmadillo.”
Plano Balloon Festival – Plano, TX
This is one of the most family-friendly hot air balloon festivals in the United States. In addition to more than 40 balloons, including a dozen character shapes, kids of all ages can enjoy a wide variety of inflatables, obstacle courses, and arts and crafts activities.
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This article was produced by Our Woven Journey.