Hot-Air Balloons in NJ: Guide to the QuickChek Balloon Festival

See the sky fill with color at the QuickChek Balloon Festival. Photo courtesy of the festival
See the sky fill with color at the QuickChek Balloon Festival. Photo courtesy of the festival

The QuickChek Balloon Festival, one of New Jersey’s most highly anticipated family events of the summer, will take place Friday, July 26 – Sunday, July 28, 2019 at Solberg Airport in Whitehouse Station.

This summer festival fave has everything: beautiful hot-air balloon ascensions, top-notch performers, rides, freebies, great food, and a central New Jersey location. Here's what you need to know before you go.

The best part of the festival is obviously the nightly and early morning hot-air balloon launches. Families picnic on the open field and set up loungers and chairs, snacks and umbrellas, blankets and baby strollers. Our little ones love to watch the process of the balloonists inflating the hot-air balloons and racing to get in the air first. As the sun sets, the balloons lift off, and it really is a breathtaking sight—not to mention a perfect background for some memorable family photos!

Balloon ascensions take place at 6:30 am and 6:30 pm each day of the festival. We have never been to the early-morning ascension, but if you have early birds, this might be a great morning trip. There will be more than 100 exciting balloons—and keep your eyes peeled for the female human cannonball, Jennifer Smith!

There is non-stop Family Entertainment throughout the three days and nights, including musical acts, magicians, acrobats, and amusement rides—all included in the price of admission. Critically acclaimed kid-favorite Dan Zanes will perform on Friday afternoon, and the fireworks display will take place that night. This year's musical headliners are The Band Perry and The Beach Boys.

The festival's signature event, the Balloon Glow, takes place on Saturday, July 27. At predetermined signals, the pilots blast the propane burners, releasing a burst of fire into the balloon, and the balloons "glow" like huge fireflies. It's a truly magical scene.

What: 37th Annual QuickChek Balloon Festival

When: Friday, July 26 – Sunday, July 28, 2019

Where: Solberg Airport
39 Thor Solberg Rd
Whitehouse Station, NJ

Tickets: If you purchase online before midnight on July 24, tickets are $30. You'll pay $35 at the gate. Children 3 and under are free. And yes, you can purchase a balloon ride—a mite pricey, but when else will you be able to float above New Jersey?

Parking: $10 per car on site, or take a free shuttle from Raritan Valley Community College on Saturday and Sunday.

What to bring:
sunscreen
bug spray
hats and sunglasses
blanket
beach chairs
umbrella
wagon or stroller

For more information, visit balloonfestival.com.

This post was originally published in 2013 and has been updated since.

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