12 Amazing Hot Air Balloon Festivals Around the World
Watch scores of colorful balloons take flight at one of these spectacular events across the globe.
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Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta
Where: Albuquerque, N.M.
When: The first week of October
Featuring more than 500 balloons, the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is the world’s premier ballooning event. Why Albuquerque? Because of the mild October temperatures and a phenomenon known as the "Albuquerque box" (a set of predictable wind patterns that allows pilots to land close to their launch sites), this Southwestern city is the ideal spot for ballooning. The mass ascension takes place at Balloon Fiesta Park’s 78-acre launch field — the equivalent of 54 football fields.
Colorado Springs Labor Day Lift Off
Where: Colorado Springs, Colo.
When: Labor Day weekend
Kick off your Labor Day weekend by watching more than 70 hot air balloons ascend over Memorial Park. A tradition for more than 40 years, the Colorado Springs Labor Day Lift Off offers many additional events and entertainment, including a chainsaw carving contest, a doughnut eating championship and skydiving demonstrations. Finish out the weekend by enjoying a gorgeous evening balloon glow.
The Great Reno Balloon Race
Where: Reno, Nev.
When: Early September
The Great Reno Balloon Race has come a long way since its humble start in 1982 with just 20 balloons, now showcasing up to 100 balloons and attracting an average of 120,000 spectators each year. The Dawn Patrol is a signature event that’s worth getting up early for, featuring a handful of balloons that are qualified to fly in the dark. After that, be awed by the mass ascension from Rancho San Rafael Park.
QuickChek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning
Where: Readington, N.J.
When: The last weekend of July
The largest summertime hot air balloon and music festival in North America, the QuickChek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning hosts 100 hot air balloons from around the world, which take flight twice each day over the scenic Hunterdon County countryside. The event welcomes 165,000 guests each year, who can also enjoy a nighttime balloon glow, concerts, fireworks, a 5K race and more.
International Balloon Festival of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu
Where: Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, Canada
With close to 100 balloons and an average of 450,000 visitors per year, the International Balloon Festival of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu is Canada’s largest balloon gathering. In addition to balloon flights and nighttime glows, the festival features live music, rides and a crafts fair. New in 2017 was the Pop Challenge, a colorful racing course made up of 20 huge inflated structures.
Bristol International Balloon Fiesta
Where: Bristol, England
A four-day event held at historic Ashton Court Estate, the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta is Europe’s largest annual meeting of hot air balloons, bringing in more than 130 balloons from across the globe. Along with several mass balloon lifts, visitors can enjoy live music, nighttime balloon glows and a fireworks finale.
European Balloon Festival
Where: Igualada, Spain
When: The first fortnight in July
The four-day European Balloon Festival showcases more than 50 balloons and draws in more than 25,000 visitors, making it the largest balloon festival in Spain and one of the largest in Europe. The festival features a mix of competitive and recreational flights, as well as a nighttime balloon glow and fireworks.
Mondial Air Ballons
Where: Lorraine, France
When: July (every other year)
Held at the Chambley-Bussieres Air Base, Mondial Air Balloons broke a world record in 2017 with the mass ascent of 456 balloons in less than an hour. This event was started in 1989 to celebrate the bicentennial of the French Revolution and now attracts more than 400,000 visitors each time it takes place.
International Hot Air Balloon Festival
Where: Chateau-d'Oex, Switzerland
When: Late January
Set against a stunning backdrop of the Swiss Alps, this nine-day festival brings together nearly 100 balloons and pilots from about 20 different countries. Visitors of the International Hot Air Balloon Festival can also explore the town’s hot air balloon museum to learn about the first attempt to circumnavigate the globe in a balloon (a journey that started in Chateau-d’Oex).
Taiwan International Balloon Festival
Where: Taitung City, Taiwan
The Taiwan International Balloon Festival saw an unprecedented number of special-shape balloons in 2017, including a pink pig and a parrot, both hailing from the United States. Visitors can see these balloons ablaze during six night glow concerts, each with a different theme.
Saga International Balloon Fiesta
Where: Saga, Japan
When: Early November
Around 100 balloons gather on the Kase Riverside for the Saga International Balloon Fiesta, bringing in more than 800,000 visitors a year. One highlight of this festival is its Hot Air Balloon School, where pilots explain the basics of ballooning and guests can actually touch the balloons. The Balloon Fantasia, featuring fun shapes such as animals and popular cartoon characters, is sure to delight the little ones.
Canberra Balloon Spectacular
Where: Canberra, Australia
Watch more than 50 balloons take flight from the lawns of the Old Parliament House during the Canberra Balloon Spectacular. Held over nine days, the festival also features several special-shape balloons.