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Summer Fun - Hot Air Balloon Festivals
Hot Air Balloon Fest
Hot Air Ballooning - Fun Fun Fun!
Up, up in the air in my beautiful balloon! I took the family recently to the annual Quechee Balloon Festival and Craft Show in scenic Quechee, Vermont near Woodstock. We had a blast and it really was an uplifting experience. Groan I know, awful puns, forgive me!
If you've never attended a balloon festival the only way to decribe it is to compare it to a fireworks display because the crowd is waiting for the exciting moment for of the balloon ascension when the colorful balloons are inflated and start to emerge from the ground and float up into the air. I makes you feel like your one of the munchkins in The Wizard of Oz!
The annual event in Quechee, Vermont is the longest continuously running Hot Air Balloon Festival in New England features over 20 hot air balloons plus music, food vendors and artisans. Its a three day event starting on Friday afternoon and running through Sunday with five opportunities to ride in hot air balloon or simply watch them take off. The admission price is good for the entire weekend and parking on the street is free so you can come and go as you like during the three day event.
The balloons ascend together over a period of about a half and hour, lighting up the sky with their bright colors. The ascensions happen at six am and six pm each day of the festival depending on the weather. If you want to ride in a balloon you can make reservations. The rides cost $225 per person and each basket holds about six people.
When you make your reservation you don't get any particular balloon. You are randomly placed in the available balloons. If you are lucky you'll get the Re/Max balloon so that balloon is guaranteed not to be in any of the pictures. My pet peeve is the Re/Max balloon mucking up my photos with their advertising!
Since the balloons have not steering, your trip depends on the way the wind is blowing. A chase team for each balloon follows along, finds you and takes you back. On the first night of the festival there was no wind at all so the balloons floated around rather close to the festival, some even dipped their baskets in the river that runs along Quechee, one balloon even managed to land back at the take off spot which is a very rare event in the sport of hot air ballooning!
On the last accession of the festival the takeoff was delayed for about an hour and a half due to wind conditions. When they finally took off the balloons flew over the Quechee Gorge and beyond. Each ride is going to be different and you never know what you'll see.
After the ride while you wait for the chase team and the balloon/basket to be stored away, you'll enjoy some champagne and a light snack to celebrate your amazing trip. An amazing it will be, there is no other way to experience the landscape as you float silently above the trees!
Another opportunity to test out the balloon experience occurs on the night of the balloon illuminations when they light up the balloons in time with music and offer tethered balloon rides. The tethered balloon rides are short trips up above the trees for a few minutes and then down.
A Photographers Dream
These balloon events are a photographer's dream come true. With all of the colorful balloon's floating around with the beautiful blue sky in the background its nearly impossible not to take an amazingly colorful photograph. At Quechee, crowd control is very laid back and people are civil minded enough to behave so the spectators are allowed a lot of freedom to walk among the balloons while they are filling up and taking off. Photographers can get up close and personal with every aspect of the take off. Of course for the ultimate photographic experience you'll want to take a ride in a balloon so you can take pictures of the other balloons and the birds eye view of scenic Vermont and New Hampshire.
A Child's Fantasy Come True
Who doesn't like giant colorful balloons? Imagine a child's fantasy come true as they in amazement as the giant balloons take off into the sky! Festivals like the Quechee Hot Air Balloon Fest also entertain children before and after the balloon ascensions. There is an inflated hot air balloon to play inside, inflated bounce houses and obstacle courses, big open fields to run around and play frisbee on, plenty of fun foods like cotton candy to buy and of course toys like kites, inflatable balloons and rubber band helicopters to beg your parents to buy you.
So this summer check out a balloon festival in your neck of the woods. You'll be glad you did!
Quechee Hot Air Balloon Festival
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