Hudson Valley Balloon Festival 2019 Returns to Rhinebeck, NY

Watch the skies fill with colorful balloons at the Hudson Valley Balloon Festival. Photo by Lee Burns
Watch the skies fill with colorful balloons at the Hudson Valley Balloon Festival. Photo by Lee Burns

Huge, colorful, hot-air balloons will take to the skies above Rhinebeck next weekend for the Hudson Valley Hot-Air Balloon Festival. This summertime family favorite features synchronized launches that decorate the sky with festive colors and eye-popping designs. Whether you choose to take a ride (tethered or otherwise), or watch with your feet firmly planted on the ground, the experience is well worth a day trip.

The 28th annual festival will continue to be held at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds in Rhinebeck—from Friday, July 12 to Sunday, July 14, 2019. Read on for details about this Insta-worthy festival, and consult our Summer Activity Guide for more fun all season long. If you haven't already, stay in the know about family attractions like this by signing up for our newsletters and following us on Facebook.

Kids 48 inches and taller can take a trip in a hot-air balloon.

More than 100 balloon launches are planned for the 2019 festival, all of which take place at either 6pm or 6am. Arrive early to watch the balloons get inflated. Beyond gawking at the palette of colorful and whimsical balloons—including a lighthouse, tulips, Simba, and Tom Cat, to name a few—visitors can hop on a tethered balloon ride, while more adventurous families can drift off on an untethered ride. Helicopter rides are also available. All airborne activities are weather-dependent and may be canceled due to wind. Advance reservations are recommended, as space is limited.

Along with hot-air balloon rides, the festival offers lots of kid-friendly activities.

For action that remains grounded, opt for the tamer hayrides, roaming railroad rides, a 22-foot "firetruck slide," antique aircraft displays, or other kid activities. Balloonists will be on hand to answer questions and discuss their craft. In addition to live music by several bands, there’s entertainment specifically for kids. This year’s lineup includes:

  • Birds of Prey Exhibition by Brian Robinson, Robinson’s Wildlife
  • Magic & Puppet Show with Bee Bee the Clown
  • Magic Show by Chris Lengyel Magic
  • Reptile Exhibition by Mark Perpetua, Reptile Encounters

The packed festival agenda includes extensive offerings at varying times, with some overlapping. The highlights are as follows:


  • 4pm – Gates Open - Admission Fee Required
  • 4–6pm – Train Station & Schoolhouse Open, Helicopter Rides
  • 4–8:30pm – Food, Craft Beverage, Beer & Wine Tent, Vendors, Live Music & Entertainment
  • 5pm – Tethered Hot-Air Balloon Rides
  • 6pm – Hot-Air Balloon Launch
  • 8:30–9pm – Balloon Glow
  • 9:30pm – Gates Close


  • 5am – Gates Open – No Admission Fee (FREE); Breakfast Food & Limited Vendors
  • 5:30am – Sparrow's Nest Community Fundraiser Breakfast (for a fee)
  • 6am – Hot-Air Balloon Launch; Tethered Hot-Air Balloon Rides; Sunrise Yoga
  • 9am – Gates Close
  • 12pm – Gates Open – Admission Fee Required
  • 12–6pm – Train Station & Schoolhouse Open
  • 12-8:30pm – Food & Vendors, Live Music & Entertainment, Craft Beverage Tastings, Beer & Wine Tent
  • 5pm – Tethered Hot-Air Balloon Rides
  • 6pm – Hot-Air Balloon Launch
  • 8:30–9pm – Balloon Glow
  • 9:30pm – Gates Close


  • 5am – Gates Open – No Admission Fee (FREE); Breakfast Food & Limited Vendors
  • 5:30am – Sparrow's Nest Community Fundraiser Breakfast (for a fee)
  • 6am – Hot-Air Balloon Launch; Tethered Hot-Air Balloon Rides; Sunrise Yoga
  • 9am – Gates Close
  • 12pm – Gates Open – Admission Fee Required
  • ​​​12–6pm -Train Station & Schoolhouse Open
  • 12–7:30pm – Food & Vendors; Live Music & Entertainment; Craft Beverage Tastings; Beer & Wine Tent
  • 12–5pm – Helicopter Rides 
  • 5pm – Tethered Hot-Air Balloon Rides 
  • 6pm – Hot-Air Balloon Launch 
  • 8pm – Gates Close

Admission (not counting added attractions like rides and food) is $10 if purchased in advance or $25 for a weekend pass. At the gate, you'll pay $14 per person. Online purchases have added fees. Kids under age 3 and parking are FREE.

Cheer on the launch of the hot-air balloons. Photo by Stacie Castella Lynch

Know Before You Go:

  • Outside food, beverages, cans, bottles, and coolers aren’t permitted; food trucks will be on site.
  • Leave home your pet, bicycle, scooter, and drone.
  • Feel free to bring blankets and chairs.
  • Close-toed shoes, clothes that can potentially get dirty, sunscreen, and bug spray are all recommended.
  • All launches and displays are weather-dependent; this includes wind conditions.
  • ​Interested in splurging for a chance to sit in the basket? Reservations are required, and kids must be at least 48 inches tall. Rides last about 45 minutes, but from set-up to wind-down, allow about 3 hours. Rates are $250-$275 per person (in addition to festival admission). Check in an hour prior to the flight time.
  • Tethered rides (lasting about 10 minutes) will also be available for $20 (cash only), as will 10-minute helicopter rides ($70). 
  • Looking to spend the night? With early-morning and evening launches, a stayover might be a good idea. The festival's website offers suggested places to stay, including campgrounds and hotels that are offering festival discounts.

To learn more, visit the Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Don't forget to peruse our Event Calendar and sign up for our newsletter for even more summer fun! 

Originally published in 2013 and updated for 2019. 

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