A New Hot Air Balloon Festival Is Coming to New England This Summer
There’s a good chance you’ve already heard about New England’s newest hot air balloon festival. Word of the event was cut loose on Facebook a few months ago, and since then, it’s garnered interest from—wait for it—more than 62,000 people.
Dubbed the New England Balloon Festival, the event will take over the Goshen Fairgrounds in the rolling hills of Litchfield County, Conn. from July 7 to July 9. There, visitors are invited to be both balloon riders and balloon spectators. Riders can hop aboard hot air balloons for hour-long trips, floating over miles of New England’s quaint back roads. Less adventurous balloon enthusiasts can ride in tethered balloons, which are tied to the ground by ropes and soar only 50 to 100 feet in the air.
It’s also possible to enjoy the festival without ever setting foot in a billowing fabric contraption. Event organizers Alicia Daponte and Matthew Soulier say watching hot air balloons dance across the sky from ground-level is just as exciting.
“The balloons are really the spectacle,” Soulier says.
Balloons launch when winds are calmest—typically around 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. During the hours between each launch, when it’s too windy to be up in the air, visitors can indulge at a food truck festival, catch some live music, and check out other events that are included with the price of admission. There will also be a “retired” inflated balloon on the ground for photo opportunities.
On Friday and Saturday at sunset, the festival will host a “balloon glow,” where 10 to 15 hot air balloons will be lighted by their burners. The stationary balloons will twinkle against the night sky for a few hours before the festival wraps up for the day.
Soulier says it’s unique and peaceful to see the huge balloons glowing on a summer evening. “It’s a one-of-a-kind experience,” he says.
But Soulier doesn’t want you to get your hopes up. “Hot air balloon festivals to begin with are incredibly weather dependent,” he explains. In order for a balloon to launch, wind speeds must be below 10 miles per hour. And since safety is the festival’s biggest priority, it’s possible some launches will be cancelled due to weather. Soulier has a no refund policy, and suggests purchasing a weekend pass in advance to increase the chances of seeing balloons.
Advance tickets are available on eventbrite.com until July 1, but are not required. Parking is free, and children under five years old are admitted for free. For information about ticket pricing and schedules, see eventbrite.com.