Hot Air Balloons Filling American Skies at Townsend and Elsewhere

By Ken Mink, Editor

TOWNSEND, Tn. – Hot air balloons seem to bring out the kid in all of us: Seeing many giant colorful balloons dotting the landscape, tugging at their tethered ropes tends to peak anyone’s excitement. And with so many chances to go on Napa Valley Balloons ride, riding a hot air ballon is easier than ever.

And more than 10,000 people are expected to experience such an adventure here Aug. 18 when ballonists display about a half dozen hot air balloons at the second annual Great Smoky Mountains Hot Air Balloon Festival . (more about hot air balloon festivals nationwide listed below)

The balloons will be on display at the Townsend Visitors Center, 7906 E. Lamar Alexander Parkway (the site is on U. S. Highway 321 about 10 miles from Maryville and 30 miles south of Knoxville).

The spectrum of the colorful balloons against a backdrop of the vast Great Smoky Mountains provides pleasing views (especially, say officials, during the sunset hours of approximately 7-9).)

The finale for many of these balloon festivals is the “night glow” or “balloon glow” event. At predetermined signals, the pilots blast the propane burners, releasing a burst of fire into the balloons. The balloons “glow” like huge fireflies or Chinese lanterns, often accompanied by fireworks, creating a magical sight.

Lots of food, drinks (via a food truck) and craft displays and sales, live entertainment and wine tastings will be available throughout the festival hours of 3 p.m to 9 p.m. Those attending are encouraged to bring portable seating and/or blankets. The festival is free, but parking costs $25 ($20 if bought in advance from the event web site at

Wine tasting will be provided by Nine Lakes Wine Country, along with local craft beer.

For a fee, spectators (adults and children) will be permitted to get into the balloon baskets for a short tethered lift approximately 30-50 feet into the sky.

“We’re thrilled we had such a successful year in 2017 and excited to bring the Hot Air Balloon Festival back for another year,” said Blount County Partnership Director Tourism Kim Mitchell stated in a press release. “ We had about 10,000 here last year and expect even more this time, if we have our usual good weather.”

There are many hotels available in the Townsend/Maryville/Knoxville area. For more information on housing, food and events in the area visit

Balloon festivals are held each year nationally and internationally throughout the year, all over the USA and the world. We have updated a calendar for 2018 balloon festivals (the ones with actual dates have been confirmed and the others just list the month that they were in this year), to be held in 25 states across the USA. The list view is sortable by balloon festival name, state, and date.

The largest hot air balloon festival in the world, the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, takes place in October each year in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The 9 day long Balloon Fiesta has over 500 participating balloons each year. But, if you don’t want to go hot air ballooning at a festival then use this link to check out all the different packages you can take are in individually.

2018 Balloon Festivals in the USA

This is a calendar of all of the USA 2018 Balloon Festivals (other than the Townsend event) that we have been able to confirm to date. Of course, you should still double check their websites and social media profiles to make sure the event hasn’t been canceled.

Adirondack Hot Air Balloon Festival NY, Glens Falls (09) Sep 20–23rd
Alabama Jubilee Hot Air Balloon Classic AL, Decatur (05) May 26–27th
Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta #BalloonFiesta NM, Albuquerque (10) Oct 6–14th
Ashland BalloonFest OH, Ashland (06) Jun 28–30th
Bluff Balloon Festival UT, Bluff (01) Jan 12–14th
Carolina BalloonFest #CarolinaBalloonFest NC, Statesville (10) Oct 19–21st
Centralia Balloon Festival IL, Centralia (08) Aug 17–19th
Chester County Balloon Festival PA, Toughkenamon (06) Jun 22–24th
Colorado River Crossing Balloon Festival AZ, Yuma (11) Nov 16–18th
Colorado Springs Labor Day Lift Off #LDLO CO, Colorado Springs (09) Sep 1–3rd
Eyes to the Sky Balloon Festival UT, Salina (06) Jun 15–17th
Field of Flight Air Show & Balloon Festival MI, Battle Creek (06) Jun/Jul 28–4th
Great Falls Balloon Festival ME, Lewiston/Auburn (08) Aug 17–19th
Great Forest Park Balloon Race* MO, Saint Louis (09) Sep 14–15th
Great Mississippi River Balloon Race MS, Natchez (10) Oct 19–21st
Great Pershing Balloon Derby MO, Brookfield (09) Sep 1–3rd
Great Prosser Balloon Rally WA, Prosser (09) Sep 28–30th
Great Reno Balloon Race #RenoBalloonRace NV, Reno (09) Sep 7–9th
Great Texas Balloon Race TX, Longview (07) Jul 27–29th
Great Wellsville Balloon Rally NY, Wellsville (07) Jul 20–22nd
Havasu Balloon Festival & Fair AZ, Lake Havasu City (01) Jan 19–21st
Helen to the Atlantic Balloon Race & Festival GA, Helen (06) Jun 1–2nd
Hot Air Jubilee MI, Jackson (07) Jul 20–22nd
Hudson Valley Hot-Air Balloon Festival NY, Poughkeepsie (07) Jul 6–8th
Kiwanis Hot Air Balloon Festival IN, Bloomington (09) Sep 7–9th
Lisle Eye To The Skies Festival IL, Lisle (06) Jun/Jul 29–1st
Macomb Balloon Rally IL, Macomb (09) Sep 7–8th
Michigan Challenge BalloonFest MI, Howell (06) Jun 22–24th
Montpelier Bean Days Balloon Festival OH, Montpelier (07) Jul 20–21st
National Balloon Classic IA, Indianola (07) Jul/Aug 27–4th
New York State Festival of Balloons NY, Dansville (08) Aug/Sep 30–3rd
Northwest Art & Air Festival OR, Albany (08) Aug 24–26th
Plano Balloon Festival #PlanoBalloon TX, Plano (09) Sep 21–23rd
Quick Chek NJ Festival of Ballooning NJ, Readington (07) Jul 27–29th
Quechee Hot Air Balloon Craft & Music Festival VT, Quechee (06) Jun 15–17th
Ravenna Balloon-A-Fair OH, Ravenna (09) Sep 15–16th
Spiedie Fest & Balloon Rally NY, Binghamton (08) Aug 3–5th
Spirit of Boise Balloon Classic ID, Boise (08) Aug/Sep 29–2nd
Temecula Valley Balloon & Wine Festival CA, Temecula (06) Jun 1–3rd
Thurston Classic PA, Meadville (06) Jun 14–17th
University Toyota’s Balloons Over Morgantown WV, Morgantown (10) Oct TBD
US National Hot Air Balloon Championship (BFA) Varies Varies Varies
Warren County Farmers’ Fair Balloon Festival NJ, Warren Co. (07) Jul/Aug 28–4th

*Billed as the oldest and most well-attended FREE Hot-Air Balloon Event in the World.

This entry was posted in News. Bookmark the permalink.