Every once and a while, this girl breaks away from Martha’s Vineyard. For a September trip, I decided I wanted to go to the Adirondack Balloon Festival in Glens Falls, New York.
This balloon festival happens to be the oldest and largest hot air balloon festival on the East Coast.
The festival spans four days, September 18th – 21st, and is an easy way for you to get up close and personal with hot air balloons.
I have only seen hot air balloons from a distance and on TV. I thought this was the year to really see one and maybe even ride in one.
We went last Friday. I was with my mother and my kids, and this particular day, happened to be my birthday. Part of the reason for wanting to go on this trip — a hot air balloon ride is on my bucket list.
Having no idea what expect, we hopped in the car and made the trek from the Albany area, where I’m originally from, up to the Adirondacks. Traffic wasn’t too bad, and we arrived at 5 p.m.
We arrived a couple of minutes later than I hoped, since the launch of 80 balloons started at 5 p.m., but luckily, it takes a bit to get the balloons into the air, so we didn’t miss much.
As we were parking, we saw the first balloon go up. What a sight.
It was stunning, an aha moment for sure. The event takes place on an airfield, and as we were walking to where the balloons were, I realized I was not doing this event correctly.
Apparently the way to do it is to “tailgate” before the 5 p.m. launch. People had their lawn chairs, dinner, and beverages, spread out on the grass.
Hmmm, I guess this is the way to go for next year. It looked like a lot of fun. A little champagne, something to nosh on, and watch the sky transform with balloons.
When we got to where the balloons were launching, I was mesmerized.
Slowly, the balloons filled and floated up into the sky. It was so beautiful. You are lost in the moment. The sky filling with balloons of various colors and shapes. It was a sight to be seen.
There were strawberry hot air balloons, a panda bear, and for all you Star Wars fans, Darth Vadar (though that balloon didn’t leave the ground).
For some reason I favored the strawberry balloon, it was so sweet, and made you think of the sweetness of Summer.
I forgot to mention that it was a beautiful, crisp night, and with the Adirondack Mountains as the backdrop, you felt like you were a part of something special.
Just watching the balloons take flight and fill the sky was such a gift. Sharing it with my children, watching their eyes light up with awe and joy, and with my mom, made it so special. A memorable experience for certain.
In my naivety, I thought I could just get on a balloon and take a ride. Not the case.
You have to pre-arrange it, and only at certain times and days over the festival, can you even get in a tethered hot air balloon ride.
What happens is the balloons take off, fly off into the evening sky, and land at a different location. Whoops, not what I had envisioned, but now I know.
So, when I go back next year — which I think will definitely happen — I’ll know what to do.
As we continued to watch the balloons, we walked around to check out the food scene. There was a limited selection so I understand why people were on the lawn with their own creations.
Lucky for us we had other dinner plans, but we got some amazing homemade kettle corn. Probably the best kettle corn I’ve ever had.
There was a cute little traveling train on wheels that we had to go on with the kiddos. This “train” on wheels brought you around festival, and kids thought it was the bees knees so I was happy.
Then it was on to the craft fair at the festival. There were several vendors, and though I left empty handed, my mom found a pair of beautiful of handmade earrings.
As the sun was setting, it began to clear out. Apparently after the balloons take flight, the festival really slows down. This was perfect for us.
We got to see the balloons which were so amazing, and enjoy what the festival had to offer.
The festival is put on by volunteers, and it’s a non-profit event. Parking and entrance is free. Crazy right?
However, you can do VIP parking which is $15, and can be purchased in advance, which I would recommend.
Next year, I think I would go on Thursday and Friday. On Thursday, there are fewer balloons, but there are tethered rides, and a city block party in downtown Glens Falls.
For Friday, I would totally do the “tailgate” thing. Let the kiddos run around, and catch the the balloons taking flight.
My family lives relatively close by so it’s an easy day trip for me. But if that’s not the case, you can make it into a wonderful weekend.
Stay in Saratoga which is only a couple of exits away on the the highway or even stay in Lake George, also super close by.
The Adirondacks are a magical place to visit anytime, but add hot air balloons and wow! I am so glad I went, finally, and next year I’m crossing a hot air balloon ride off my bucket list!
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1 thought on “From The Ocean To The Mountains – The Adirondack Balloon Festival”
Loved this article, thanks for the great advice!