A hot air balloon festival is a celebration of hot air ballooning and all it entails, including mass balloon launches and tethered balloon rides. Festivals can range in size from just a few hot air balloons to more than 100, and festival lengths vary from a few hours to several days. Often, a hot air balloon festival will feature events such as night glows, balloon ascensions and fireworks. The events also typically include parades, dances and food.
Balloon night glows are a stunning festival attraction at many festivals. The balloons' burners are fired to light up the balloon so it glows and looks like a giant, floating ornament. The annual White Sands Balloon Invitational in White Sands, New Mexico, begins with a balloon launch at sunrise and features a balloon glow about 30 minutes after sundown.
Wine, art and music are some of the many attractions which can be featured at a hot air balloon festival. The Nebraska Balloon and Wine Festival in Omaha, Nebraska, showcases award-winning wines. The Shenandoah Valley Hot Air Balloon, Wine and Music Festival features wine tasting, lawnmower races and a classic car show.
A larger hot air balloon festival is the European Balloon Festival. It is held annually in July in Igualada, Spain and features nearly 60 balloons. The four-day hot air balloon festival is one of the largest in Europe and even offers festival-goers an opportunity to fly on a balloon.
Sometimes a hot air balloon festival is used as a fundraiser for a charity and features activities designed to generate money for the organization. Proceeds from the annual Huff n Puff Hot Air Balloon Rally in Topeka, Kansas, benefit the Ronald McDonald House. The event features a mass balloon launch and tethered rides, as well as a kids' workshop for fourth through sixth graders. The workshop teaches kids how balloon operators control balloons, the physics of how hot air rises and offers a chance to make and fly miniature balloons.
Often times, a hot air balloon festival is held in conjunction with another event, such as an annual fair or music festival. The Quechee Hot Air Balloon, Craft and Music Festival in Quechee, Vermont features entertainment and arts and crafts by local artists. The Patterson Apricot Fiesta and Balloon Meet in Patterson, California, features a parade, baking contest and a Little Mister and Miss Apricot pageant. Hot air balloon races are another event that is often part of a hot air balloon festival.