Hot air balloon festivals might not be on everyone’s bucket list, but here’s why it should! Whether you’re inside a balloon basket or on the ground watching them take off in a festival, there’s just something mesmerizing and magical about them.
Hot air balloon festivals take place in many parts of the world each year, creating a dreamy world of balloon-filled skies. Take part and watch scores of colourful balloons take flight at one of these spectacular hot air balloon festivals!
1) Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta
The largest hot air balloon festival in America takes place every October in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It’s come a long way since its humble beginnings in 1972, when there were only 13 hot air balloons. Today, it sees over 500 hot air balloons take flight over nine days!
As one of the largest hot air balloon festivals in the world, you’ll find some of the most unique balloons here. Some are cultural-themed, some are decorated with ornate designs, kaleidoscope patterns, and even shaped like animals and historical figures! Watching these balloons take off against the backdrop of the Sandia Mountains is a sight you will never forget.
2) International Balloon Festival of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu
The International Balloon Festival of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu is Canada’s largest balloon gathering. Held over nine days in August, you can book a balloon flight and see Quebec from the skies.
In addition to that, there are also lots of fun activities to do here. Think programs, ziplines, inflatables and games, along with concerts featuring local and international artists. There’s even a theme park with rides along with a small safari park!
3) Semaine Internationale de Ballons à Air Chaud
Château-d’Oex is not just Switzerland’s hot air balloon capital, but it’s also a historical spot. In 1999, two men successfully circled the world on a hot air balloon – and they took off right here in Château-d’Oex.
Set against a stunning backdrop of the Swiss Alps, this nine-day festival sees pilots from around the world compete to be the best. Make sure to catch a passenger flight where you can see the snow-covered alps, and visit the town’s hot air balloon museum!
4) European Balloon Festival
Taking place every first fortnight of July, Spain’s largest hot air balloon event has a four-day run where 50 hot air balloon pilots from around the world compete for the number one spot in the contest.
You can also book a hot air balloon flight and take to the skies, but if you prefer staying on the ground there are also lots of fun activities to do. If you’re into photography, there is a contest for the best photographs of the whole festival. The winner gets a trophy and €500!
5) Ferrara Balloons Festival
What’s unique about this Italian festival is that you can not only get hot air balloon rides, but you’ll also get to see the historic center of Ferrara, jewel of the Renaissance and UNESCO World Heritage Site.
If heights are not your thing, you can also go for the anchored flights where the hot air balloons rise only 30 metres above the ground. As a family-friendly event, the festival also features carnival games and amusement parks, sports performances and even a military air show!
6) Mondial Air Ballons
Mondial Air Ballons broke a world record in 2017 with the mass ascent of 456 balloons in under an hour. Taking place every other year at the Chambley-Bussieres Air Base in Hagéville, France, this event was founded in 1989 to celebrate the bicentennial of the French Revolution. Today, it attracts more than 400,000 visitors!
Book your flight and take part in a whole host of activities to do. From exhibitions to workshops and even an outdoor yoga class, there’s something for all ages to enjoy!
7) Philippines International Hot Air Balloon Festival
For something closer to home, the Philippines’ International Hot Air Balloon Festival takes place in Clark every year between January to February. Founded in 1994, the event helped to boost the local economy after three years of devastations caused by Mt. Pinatubo’s eruptions.
As the largest aviation sports event in the country, the festival doesn’t just feature hot air balloons. It has expanded to feature other sports, such skydiving to rocketry, and remote control helicopter flying to choreographed kite-flying!
8) Saga International Balloon Fiesta
There are lots of things to do and see in Japan, and one of them is the Japan’s International Balloon Fiesta. It actually started in Kyushu in 1978, but today, it is held in Saga prefecture by the Kase River every autumn.
One highlight of this festival is its Hot Air Balloon School, where guests can learn the basics of ballooning. There is also the Balloon Fantasia which is sure to delight the little ones. It features adorable animals and cartoon characters as gigantic balloons! More than just hot air balloons, there are also lots of food, craft and cultural vendors available.
9) Taiwan International Balloon Festival
The Taiwan International Balloon Festival in Taitung happens every summer and runs for an entire month! The festival is famous for its cute and cartoon-themed hot air balloons – a big hit with families and young kids.
If you want to ride a hot air balloon at this festival, you’ll need to book months in advance. Alternatively, you can book a tethered balloon ride, where the balloon is still anchored to the ground and only ascends to a certain height. Take note though, for safety reasons children under 10 years old aren’t allowed in the balloon rides!
10) Canberra Balloon Spectacular
Last but not the least, the Canberra Balloon Spectacular takes place in Australia every March for two weeks. The event starts on the lawn of Canberra’s old parliament house, cradled by a beautiful lake and lush forest. Book your flight ahead and see Mother Nature at her finest!
After landing, treat yourself to a hearty breakfast and some champagne prepared by a special caterer. But if the idea of flying makes your stomach turn instead, spectating is free! You can also kayak at Lake Burley Griffin, which will give you a dreamy view of the hot air balloons in the sky.