Sometimes, being full of hot air is a good thing.
This summer, get your head in the clouds — and check out a demolition derby or a rock concert! — at two different balloon festivals kicking off this month in different areas of New Jersey.
The QuickChek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning in Hunterdon County glams things up with a weekend full of live music and attention-grabbing balloon shapes. The Warren County Farmers’ Fair featuring the Hot Air Balloon Festival stays down-home with country fair-style fun. Both feature mass ascensions, in which dozens of balloons take to the skies at once for your viewing pleasure, once or twice daily when the winds are most favorable (meaning early morning or early evening, so if you swing by around lunchtime, you’re out of luck).
“We work very hard every year to find the best new balloons in the world. Combined with our returning special shapes and the colorful sport balloons, the skies this year will be amazing,” says Howard Freeman, executive producer of the New Jersey Festival of Ballooning.
Of course, if you’re brave enough to go up in a balloon for a good look at the countryside below, you’ll need to pay extra and reserve your flight in advance; no reservation needed if you’re sticking with the shorter tethered rides (meaning the balloon is basically floating in place), which are held throughout the day depending on wind conditions. Below, get the scoop on both festivals.
The 34th Annual QuickChek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning
This festival will feature 100 balloons from around the world, including a 115-foot-tall farmer pig and 85-foot-tall pelican from Brazil, and a pair of 90-foot-tall penguins from the United Kingdom who kiss in mid-flight. Other balloons are being flown by pilots from Canada, Mexico and Thailand.
Also at the festival: a concert lineup that includes Third Eye Blind, the Girl and the Dreamcatcher featuring Dove Cameron and Ryan McCartan, KC and the Sunshine Band and John Kay & Steppenwolf featuring Foghat. Plus, cannonballer Brian “The Human Fuse” Miser will shoot himself across the grounds while on fire. There’s also a 5K cross road challenge, as well as amusement rides, crafters and food vendors.
When: July 29 (1 to 10 p.m.), July 30 (6 a.m. to 10 p.m.), July 31 (6 a.m. to 8 p.m.). Mass balloon ascensions are at 6:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. daily.
Where: Solberg Airport (39 Thor-Solberg Road, Whitehouse Station)
How Much: Adults $24 to $35, ages 4 to 12 $10-$15, 3 and under free. Balloon rides are $225 per person in the morning, $250 per person in the evening. Tethered rides are $20 per person.
For more details: www.balloonfestival.com
The Hot Air Balloon Festival
This helium-filled fest is part of the 79th Annual Warren County Farmers’ Fair, which also features 4-H exhibits, a baby crawling contest, baking contests, demolition derbies, a horse show, antique cars, traditional crafts, tractor pull races and more. More than 30 pilots are scheduled to take to the sky in this, the festival’s 16th year.
Also at the festival: The 10th annual fund-raising Bicycle Balloon Race will be held August 3. During the race, balloonists fly cyclists and their bikes for a predetermined distance or amount of time, then land so that the cyclists can race back to the fairgrounds. All entry fees will be donated to the Fred Grotenhuis Memorial Scholarships, in honor of the late pilot whose idea it was to add hot air balloons to the fair.
When: July 30-August 6 (noon to 10 p.m. daily). Mass balloon ascensions are held each evening at 6:30, depending on the weather. Balloon rides are $205 per person on weekends and $195 weekdays. Tethered rides are $10 per person.
Where: 1350 Strykers Road, Phillipsburg
How much: Admission $7, $4 ages 5-12, ages 4 and under free (all children free before 4 p.m. weekdays). Balloon rides are $205 per person on weekends and $195 weekdays. Tethered rides are $10 per person.
For more details: www.warrencountyfarmersfair.org
Hero (Top) Feature Image: Rebecca Mensch/Mensch & Company, Inc.
Additional Images (in Order) Courtesy:
Rebecca Mensch/Mensch & Company, Inc.