What kid doesn't love a balloon, especially a entire sky filled with huge, colorful, hot-air balloons? Every year, families flock to the annual Hudson Valley Hot-Air Balloon Festival, which includes synchronized launches from sites across the area. Even if you don't live in the Hudson Valley, this experience is worth a day trip—spectators come from all over the tri-state area!
The 2018 Balloon Festival will be held in a new location—the Dutchess County Fairgrounds in Rhinebeck—from Friday, July 6 to Sunday, July 8. Read on for details about this annual favorite, and be sure to check out our Summer Activity Guide for more fun all season long.
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Kids 48 inches and taller can take a trip in a hot-air balloon.
More than 100 balloon launches are planned for the 2018 festival, as well as helicopter rides, tethered balloon rides, hayrides, roaming railroad rides, live music, games, kids' activities, and more.
The fairgrounds open at 4pm on Friday, with the first balloon launch scheduled for 6pm. The entrance fee will be $10/person on Friday, and on Saturday and Sunday the fee is $10 if you purchase in advance and $13 at the gate. Advance purchase is strongly recommended. Kids under 3 are free. Included in the fee is access to a plethora of family fun: rides, games, pedal karts, inflatables, a petting zoo, haunted house, cow train, live music on two different stages, and more. There's also a playground.
Summon your rooster because the gates will reopen at 5am on Saturday and Sunday, with balloons launching at 6am. Admission is free from 5–7am, but nearly all of the activities, save for a petting zoo, tethered hot-air balloon rides and some concessions, will be closed. Gates open at noon for the festival. It runs until 9:30pm Friday and Saturday, closing with a Moon Glow display each night. The festival closes at 8pm Sunday evening following the last mass launch.
It's not just balloons! There's plenty of kid-friendly fun happening at the festival.
What to Know Before You Go:
- Outside food isn’t permitted, and pets must be left at home. Food trucks will be available, as will Barton’s bakery, farm market and tap room. Feel free to bring blankets and chairs.
- All launches and displays are weather dependent.
- Interested in splurging for a chance to sit in the basket? Reservations are required, and kids must be at least 48 inches tall.
- Tether rides will also be available for $20 (cash only), as will 10-minute helicopter rides ($50).
Arrive before scheduled launches to see the balloons prepare for flight.
To find out more about the Hudson Valley Balloon Festival, 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 2018.
All photos courtesy of the Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce.