Written By Kaushani Chatterjee.
We’re all quite familiar with the word ‘balloon’. As a child, we have all had our times when we played with air balloons. Nightmares came the next day when we found our precious fantasies to be out of air or in some cases, they even got burst while playing.
But no this is not that same balloon that we are talking about. These hot air balloons can take us up to the high sky and offer us a magical journey that we have always dreamt off as kids.
You’ve probably heard of the Disney movie ‘Up’. And just like this movie people nowadays can ride a hot air balloon and travel to a new destination that is filled with magic, romance and freedom. If you long for the sky then this is one of the easiest and most wonderful experiences you can probably enjoy.
These hot air balloons come up with different crazy colors and designs, making people gawk at them with admiration. Maybe one can’t easily ride a hot air balloon during this pandemic time, but you can definitely experience this ride by going through this article.
There are many countries which celebrate hot air balloon festivals. And among them, I have picked up the Top 15. So, without any further ado let’s hop right into the list of the ‘Top 15 Spectacular Hot Air Balloons Festivals Around The World’.
1. Colorado Springs Labor Day Lift Off, Colorado, USA
This is one of the longest celebrated festivals that’s being held specifically on Labor Day weekend since a long time. People start gathering up from early dawn, just to reserve ‘the perfect’ spot to witness the spectacular journey of the balloons taking their place up in the sky.
Almost 70 balloons rise up in the sky, some of which also make their first debut. The place where it takes place is also quite noteworthy, as the lake surface transforms to a magical mirror reflecting the kaleidoscopic view of their journey. Alas! In the year 2020 only 20-30 balloons soared up to the high skies because of the pandemic.
Aside from these balloon rides, the ground becomes a haven for various eating competitions, exhibitions, live entertainments and what not! And the night show is a must watch. You can probably guess why. It’s spectacular to see the glowing balloons in the pitch-black darkness.
Started In– 1997.
Location– Memorial Park near Prospect Lake, Colorado.
Website– Colorado Springs Labor Day Lift Off.
2. Canberra Balloon Spectacular, Australia
Canberra Balloon Spectacular, Australia which is also known as Canberra Balloon Spectacular is an annual hot air balloon festival that takes place in the lawns of the old Parliament House in Canberra, Australia.
It is a 2-week festival held in March. At every dawn, for 2 weeks almost 50 hot air balloons take flight to view Nature’s splendor. Each flight takes around 45 to 60 minutes. To ride the hot air balloons do make your booking in advance.
You can also go for kayaking in the Lake Burley Griffin along with enjoying the spectacular view of the hot air balloons.
Started In– 1987.
Location– Lawns of the Old Parliament House, Canberra.
3. Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, UK
The Bristol International Balloon Festival is considered Europe’s largest annual hot air balloon festival in the world. 100 balloons launch at the same time, filling the blue skies with various colours. And it’s really a sight to behold when the balloons take their place during the night time.
It’s like fireflies that light up in the sky and guide you along (though these can be considered as a little too big compared to fireflies).
Some of the special shapes these balloons take after are: a UFO, Stuart the minion, Rupert the bear, etc.
Started In– 1979.
Location– Aston Court Mansion, United Kingdoms.
Website– Bristol International Balloon Fiesta.
4. International Hot Air Balloon Festival, Switzerland
100 hot air balloons from over 20 or more countries participate in this festival during the last week of January for 9 consecutive days. Woah! That’s awesome, isn’t it? Imagine yourself participating in a festival for 9 days and watching air balloons rise every day and night.
There are so many things to enjoy in this particular event. There are air displays, mini balloon displays, helicopter rides, exhibitions, fun workshops and etc. having the advantage of the Alps in the background, the weather is mostly in favor of them. Wednesday evening is specially dedicated to the children to have fun and seize the day.
Started In- 1979.
Location– 1660 Château-d’Oex Schweiz.
Website– International Hot Air Balloon Festival.
5. Saga International Balloon Fiesta, Japan
It is noted that Saga International Balloon Fiesta is one of the top hot air balloon competitions of the world. Again, it is also one of the largest hot air balloon festivals in Asia. It turns to a completely different world when an array of colorful balloons flares up to the sky in different shapes and sizes.
The most popular event is the ‘La Montgolfier Nocturne’. Combining tournaments with fireworks and colorful flight of 100 balloons in the sky, is truly a wonderful sight to behold. These clusters of balloons shine the most during the night, making it difficult to determine the time of the day.
Started In- 1978.
Location– Kyushu City, Saga Prefecture.
Website– Saga International Balloon Fiesta.
6. European Balloon Festival, Igualada, Spain
The European Balloon Festival is the largest hot air balloon festival in Spain and the largest meeting in Southern Europe. It takes place in Igualada, a city located at a distance of 60 kilometers from Barcelona.
The festival is held for four days from Thursday to Sunday during the first fortnight that is the first fifteen days of July. Hot air balloon competition is accompanied with night glow and fireworks to delight more than 26,000 visitors who come to witness the magnanimity of this festival.
Visitors can fly in the balloons by booking in advance. The flights are majorly conducted during early morning and late afternoons due to the weather condition and to ensure a safe event.
Started In– 1997.
Location– Igualada, Catalonia, Spain.
7. Albuquerque International Balloon Festival, USA
The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is the world’s largest and most celebrated hot air ballooning event. And it’s also one of the most photographed events in the world. As soon as dawn breaks more than 500 balloons flare up to the sky.
In this event, nearly 750,000 visitors come from all over the world to get a glimpse of this spectacular moment. The most interesting thing is that one can speak with the pilots if they want and roam around the field as they please, until the final moment.
The event continues for four weekend mornings. One can be in the lap of the sky and enjoy its every beautiful, mesmerizing moment for the time being.
Started In– 1972.
Location- 4401 Alameda Blvd NE, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87113, United States.
8. Ferrara Balloon Festival, Italy
Taking place at the center of the historic city, it lasts up to 10 days, with nearly 150,000 visitors from everywhere. More than 300 balloons take up to the sky performing different maneuvers.
The festival is accompanied by concerts, attractive performances, delicious food and drink stalls and wonderful scenery to indulge oneself in. The uniquely shaped aircraft, sports activities, musical events, camps are another part of this festival to enjoy.
And the last but not the least- won’t be riding in these gentle giants be an unforgettable experience?
Started In– 2005.
Location- Via Riccardo Bacchelli, 44100 Ferrara FE, Italy.
Website– Ferrara Balloons Festival.
Also Read: Top 19 Best Whale Watching Places In The World.
9. Taiwan International Balloon Festival, Taiwan
The 10th anniversary of this beautiful balloon festival was celebrated on 11th July 2020. Despite the havoc the pandemic created, this festival still blossomed in its full glory. Sending flare to 28 hot air balloons surely held light to the hearts of the then scared people.
Over 40 balloons are lit in this festival and over 4 million people come to attend. Situated between the blue skies and the lush green plateau, this festival has become to be known as the ‘rising event of the 21st century’.
Started In– 2011.
Location- Luye Plateau in Taitung County.
Website– Taiwan International Balloon Festival.
10. Araku Balloon Festival, Andhra Pradesh
Now then we have all talked about so many different countries, but another hot air balloon festival celebrated in the world is Araku Balloon Festival in Andhra Pradesh, India. There are many opportunities to ride a hot air balloon in India, but one of the most celebrated is the Araku Valley Hot Air Balloon Festival.
Riding in one of the balloons will give you the mesmerizing view of the Araku Valley. One can have a 360 degree of this valley flying at an altitude of 2500 meters. Over 20 balloons are flown in the sky and many countries participate in this event.
The total ride in this air balloon is for an hour when you can watch this breathtaking view of so many balloons rising upwards at the same time.
Started In– 2017.
Location– NTR Ground, Bosubeda, Andhra Pradesh 531149.
Website– Araku Balloon Festival.
11. Hot Air Balloon Rides, Cappadocia, Turkey
Though the hot air balloon rides at Cappadocia, Turkey takes place all around the year and therefore is not technically a festival, still, it wouldn’t be fair to not mention the number one place in this world to take a hot air balloon ride.
To ride these spectacular colored balloons and to enjoy the stunning views of the rocky landscapes and natural wonders that come with it, you need to do your booking in advance. Many balloons fly every day and the demand for it is equally daunting.
But when you get the booking done you will be rewarded with a one of a lifetime experience. While on the balloons, the views of the fairy chimneys which are the cone-shaped rock formations of Monks Valley, pillars, river valleys and cliffs will mesmerize you.
Visit the of the hot air balloon rides at Cappadocia, Turkey to know about tour timings and then book your ride accordingly.
Website– Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon Ride.
12. Philippines International Hot Air Balloon Festival, Pampanga
Philippines International Hot Air Balloon Festival is held in Clark Freeport Zone, Angeles, Pampanga. It takes place for four days between January and February. This festival was started in 1994 to revive the economy from the disruptions caused by the Mt. Pinatubo’s eruption.
As the festival started to gain popularity, other sports events like skydiving, flag jumps, hi-start launch gliding, control-line aircraft flying, pylon racing, remote control helicopter flying, kite-making and kite-flying also got added.
The festival gets many tourists and more than hundred balloon plane pilots attending every year. It is one of the biggest aviation sports events in the Philippines.
Started In– 1994.
Location– Clark Freeport and Special Economic Zone, Angeles, Pampanga.
13. The Great Reno Balloon Race, Nevada, USA
The Great Reno Balloon Race is held during the month of September for four days in Rancho San Rafael Park, Reno, Nevada. This festival is one of the longest-running (39 years) free hot air balloon festival. The mission of this event is to celebrate the joy of flight.
This festival ensures that you spend a great memorable time with your family and loved ones. Along with riding the hot air balloons, visitors can take part in other events like scavenger hunts and pyjama party competitions. You can also indulge in a shopping spree or feed yourself to some amazing food at the Balloon Boulevard.
This event attracts hundreds of visitors every year and a competition for the best-taken photographs of the event is also conducted. This event has also won noteworthy awards like “Best Special Event in Reno” and “Best Event in Northern Nevada”.
Started In– 1982.
Location– Rancho San Rafael Park, Reno, Nevada.
Website– The Great Reno Balloon Race, Nevada.
14. Plano Balloon Festival, Texas, USA
This is one of the largest hot air balloon festivals. Plano Balloon Festival is held each year in the month of September at Oak Point Park and Nature Preserve in the city of Plano, Texas. This event has been running for 40 years and was started as a fundraiser event for local nonprofit organizations.
In this festival along with taking flight in the hot air balloons, there are many other activities that are organised for more than 90,000 people attending this event. Live band performance, local community acts skydiving, fireworks and night glow are all a part of the celebrations.
Started In– 1980.
Location– 2801 E Spring Creek Pkwy, Plano, TX 75074, United States.
Website– Plano Balloon Festival, Plano, Texas.
15. International Balloon Festival, Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Canada
This festival takes place in a vast area that not only covers and complements the hot air balloon festival, but also equally advertises the different balloon shows, contests, eateries, and fun activities.
The air balloon launches take place both in the morning and evening, with more than 125 balloons soaring high in the sky. It’s a magical experience that one can never ever get tired of.
Started In– 1984.
To book tickets for these festivals we recommend going through these festivals official websites where you will find everything you need. Not only will you be able to book tickets for your ride, but also you will be able to look up for places to stay during these festivals.
Another thing to note is, you need to start planning about them as early as possible, otherwise, you might just miss your chance. Even if you are a spectator this is not an opportunity you want to miss.
Especially do attend the night shows at these festivals. It will change your life in a wonderful way that you’ve never experienced.
Also Read: 15 Most Dangerous Places to Travel in the World.
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Kaushani Chatterjee is a contributor at The Strong Traveller. She is an upcoming novelist, a content writer, a web designer, and a marketing intern. She has published her debut book in 2019 under her pen name, Scarlet. She is an adventure lover and loves trekking and other adventure sports. Being a freelancer has given her the opportunity and freedom to travel to different locations and work at the same time.