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Famous Hot Air Balloon Festivals

The best way to enjoy the skies and the views below is through hot air ballooning. There are festivals that occur all over the world specifically for it. But how does a hot air balloon work? Through a simple scientific principle that hot air rises. A hot air balloon consists of three parts: the envelope or balloon to non-balloonist; a burner; and lastly a basket. The envelopes are often quite large because it can require a large amount of hot air to lift one person. And to fly a hot air balloon requires study and experience. There are schools that teach you to be a balloon pilot such as Skyscapes of America. However, if you would rather be a spectator or a passenger, I recommend attending a festival instead. Here are some of the more famous hot air balloon festivals worth traveling to.

Famous Hot Air Balloon Festivals
Albuquerque Balloon Festival

Famous Hot Air Balloon Festivals

Albuquerque, New Mexico

The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta takes place in early October each year. Over the course of the festival, over 600 balloons take off from a field the size of 54 football fields! Tickets can be purchased by session at $10 each. However, for a grander experience you can become a part of the Gondola Club starting at $55. The Gondola Club gives you access to a session and includes first-class amenities such as a gourmet buffet, live entertainment, and best of all exclusive access to the balloon launch.

The annual event provides travelers with an opportunity to experience “glamping” on the festival grounds. The $1,500, package includes three nights accommodation in a 168-square foot safari tent. You have the option for a queen bed or two twins and the ten comes with a heater and a refrigerator. You’ll also get access to exclusive parking and hospitality areas with grills, lounge areas, community showers and restrooms. If that’s too steep of a price tag, rent a camper van and consider one of the RV sites instead. Some offer water connections and prime viewing spots for balloon launches.

new mexico
Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta: John Fowler / CC BY 2.0

Bristol, England

The 2019 Bristol International Balloon Fiesta will take place August 8th to the 11th at the Ashton Court Estate. It is one of the largest European festivals hosting over 130 balloons and recently celebrated its 40th year of operations. The annual festival is free to all except for parking fees. Some of the activities you can participate in include balloon tethering, model hot air balloon competitions, and multiple mass balloon lifts. The highlight of the event though is the Nightglows and Fireworks Finale where a handful of balloons launch to a specially commissioned soundtrack. They light up the sky and are shortly accompanied by a fireworks show.

Bristol International Balloon Festival
Bristol International Balloon Festival: Photo on Flickr by Karen Roe / CC BY 2.0

Are you a fan of champagne? At Bristol International Balloon Fiesta you can combine your love of champagne and hot air balloons for the fee of $288 (approximately 225 GBP). What could be better than sipping champagne in the clouds?

In the words of Winnie The Pooh author A.A. Milne, “Nobody can be uncheered with a balloon.” So grab the family, your partner, or friends and visit these famous hot air balloon festivals next year.

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