Thank you New Jersey Lottery Festival of Ballooning for hosting us. As always, opinions are still 100% my own.
Last Friday we experienced views of a lifetime! We went for the first time to the 38th annual New Jersey Lottery Festival of Ballooning, the largest summertime hot air balloon and music festival in North America. The festival of ballooning took place at Solberg Airport in Readington, NJ for three days (July 23-25).
The New Jersey Lottery Festival of Ballooning features concerts, family entertainment, arts and crafts vendors, food vendors, fireworks, balloon glow and much more. Not to mention that the festival is super Instagram-worthy. So if you’re looking for a way to uniquely celebrate the summer with your family, keep reading to learn all about this festival and hopefully if you have not attended this year, you can plan for next year which will happen on July 29-31, 2022.
About the Balloons
For our family, watching the hot air balloons take off in the sky was the best part of the festival. The kids would get so excited at the sight of each balloon going up and away. Specially the shaped, colorful, unique and fun ones! So be sure to check the schedule of balloon launch and plan to get there before it so you can get confortably set up in the grass. You can bring blankets or lawn chairs and umbrellas are allowed as long as they dont block other’s view of the balloons ( it was sunny and still hot at 6:30 pm on Friday).
Usually, the balloons launch two times on Saturday and Sunday of the event, starting around 6:30am and 6:30pm. On Friday they launch only around 6:30pm. We went for the Friday evening launch. The gates opened at 1pm and we arrived there around 4pm. We had plenty of time to walk around the festival, check the vendors, grab snacks and ice cream before going to the lawn and setting up to watch the ballons go up. This is a big airport field, so you can pick any place to watch the launch. We stayed very close to where the ballons were being set up to blow and I wished we had gone a little bit farther to have a better shot at pictures. But still, was so beautiful!
The balloons do not go up at any other times other than scheduled ascension times, so if you get there around different time, you will not see balloons floating around the festival. Also, the balloons will only go up if weather conditions are right (meaning not too much wind, no threats of storms or rain). There are no guarantees and no refunds if you do not get to see an ascension. If you are planning to see an evening ascension, I would recommend planning to get there a bit earlier. We arrived at 4pm and the traffic was just starting to get heavy, meaning the closer to the balloons launch, more traffic to get in.
If you are brave enough and is looking for extra adventure, they offer rides on the hot air balloons. I am afraid of heights, so forget about it 🙂 But if you are looking for an unique experience, I bet this is it! Balloon rides are around $240-$295 per person and advanced tickets are needed. Also keep in mind that you still need to pay general admission to get into the festival. Now if you are looking for a affordable and fun experience, you can try out the tethered balloon rides on festival grounds. The tethered rides are only $20 a person!
Other Things To Do – Entertainment
Before you attend, I recommend that you check out the map and schedule of the festival on their website. There’s a lot going on at the festival and you can check out the line-up of entertainment for the exact day you plan to attend.
Here are a few things the festival consists of:
- Concerts: You can buy tickets to have a reserved seat or you can just watch and listen to it from the balloon launch grass field. This year live concerts featured Barenaked Ladies,Max Weinberg’s Jukebox, Styx and Laurie Berkner.
- Family Entertaimnet: Different shows and activities going on all day long, the New Jersey Lottery Festival of Ballooning offered non stop entertaiment from magician, amusement rides, bouncing houses, “the bullet show” and much more. Also keep in mind that there is an extra charge for rides and bouncing play.
- Fireworks and Balloon Glow: If you plan to attend the festival on Friday, be sure to catch the Fireworks at 9:30 pm. It was like 4th of July all again! The kids loved it! Saturday night they offer the Balloon Glow, where gigantic hot air balloons will glow beautifully against the night sky.
- Active experience: If you are looking to stay active they offer 5k, Sunrise Yoga and Pilates.
- Vendors: with all these activities, you will be hungry! There are lots of food vendors and food trucks around the festival. Note that coolers, bottles and outside food will not be allowed into the festival. There are also quite a few arts and craft vendors and tents to shop from clothing to hot air balloon gift shop.
General Admission tickets gives your entrance to the festival on any one day. Adult tickets are around $26- $135. Tickets for children ages 4 to 12 are $12- $15. Children 3 and under are free! Lawn seating for concerts is included in your general admission ticket. Keep in mind that this is only for the festival. Amusement rides, bouncing houses, balloon rides are separate fee.
I created a highlights on my Instagram with videos from the event, so if you would like to see it click here. Any questions about it feel free to leave them down below in the comments section and I will happily answer them.