BALLOONS

BALLOON LAUNCHES

Balloon Launches only happen at SUNRISE and SUNSET, approximately 5:30am-6:00am sunrise and 6:00pm-6:30pm sunset.

Note that for the SUNRISE launches on Saturday and Sunday, the public will be able to come and watch for free. They’ll then need to exit before the regular show hour start time of 11am, where tickets can be bought at the main entry gate. 

They are a very popular event at the festival, so plan on arriving AT LEAST an hour early (or more).  This will give you time to park nearby and walk into the festival.

Bleacher seating is available, as is plenty of open grass for you to spread a picnic blanket out on.  You’ll likely be in the sun, so come prepared.

There is food and drink available onsite, as well as bathrooms and some fun activities.

Balloons don’t fly in rain or light to heavy winds. (See below.)  In fact, the conditions have to be JUST right for them to launch, which makes an actual launch more special.

BALLOON GLOW

Don’t miss the Saratoga Balloon & BBQ Festival’s incredible balloon glow.

A balloon glow is a gathering of hot air balloons that inflate at night.  When the burners are ignited, the balloons come to life with brightly glowing colors and the roar of the burners.  For Friday night only, 15 hot air balloons will be placed throughout the Saratoga Fair Ground’s gorgeous landscape. (If rainy weather should prevent the balloon glow happening on Friday night, we will have it on Saturday night instead at the same time!)

It’s a spectacular display of color and sound within the magical nighttime ambiance of the Saratoga Fair Grounds.

Don’t miss this magical event!

 

BALLOON RIDES

Imagine yourself in the wicker basket of a hot air balloon, gently lifting off from the Saratoga Fairgrounds. Slowly, the crowds, the buildings, and the fields quietly fade beneath you, with fellow balloons rising and gliding with you through the blue skies of New York, giving you a view of the countryside and memories for the rest of your life.

The whole experience lasts roughly 3 hours, with the flight lasting approximately 1 hour depending on the conditions.

You’ll meet your pilot and ground crew an hour before flight time. Then, you’ll join the crew in deploying the balloon, while learning the basics of balloon flight. It’s hands on, but only as much as you want it to be (it’s a lot of fun!). The pilot will inflate the balloon, and when ready, you’ll step aboard. In moments, the balloon will lift off and gently sail through the sky with over 20 other balloons. Any balloon flight is amazing!

Launching with the Saratoga Balloon & BBQ Festival is a treat. As you float above the mountains and lakes, you’ll notice how quiet and peaceful the flight is. You’re flying with the wind, so there’s little motion felt aboard but you’ll see the landscape slowly passing beneath you.

As you fly, the chase crew will communicate with your pilot, and follow you to your landing point. Balloon landings are generally soft, but they can vary. Some landings are like jumping from the bottom step of your stairs to the floor, and some are like jumping from 2-3 stairs up to the floor. Sometimes the balloon basket will touch down several times when coming to a stop. The landings are generally soft but do require holding on. The pilot will let you know in advance of the landing.

Once on the ground, the balloon will be quickly packed into the waiting chase crew vehicle, and the long tradition will be celebrated of the pilot giving the landowner a bottle of champagne for allowing him to land on his property.

You’ll ride back to the launch area, full of memories of the flight, taking them with you forever.

Balloon Ride Pricing starts at $275/person. Click HERE to book a ride and see all pricing.

SHAPED BALLOONS

Hot air balloons aren’t just limited to the traditional balloon shape – come see the Special Shape Balloons dreamt up by some creative aviators!

*REMINDER– these balloons are only up in the morning (5:30am – 6:00am), evening (6:00pm – 6:30pm) and for the balloon glow on Friday Night (8:00pm – 8:30pm). If you arrive in the middle of the day, you will not see any balloons!

WALK ABOUT BALLOON for KIDS

 Purchase a $2 ticket at the Walk About balloon so your kids can bounce around inside the Walk About balloon!

 

TETHERED RIDE DETAILS

Float high above the crowd and get a “feeling” of what a real flight is like. This is a great way to enjoy Hot Air Ballooning without leaving the venue.

What is a tethered Balloon Ride? Tethering means, the balloon is securely anchored to the ground via a series of high-tensile strength ropes and carabiners. Then the hot air balloon ascends to a predetermined height above the ground and crowd to a height of 50′ or less. During a tether ride, passengers climb aboard the aircraft for a short ride. This is ideal for people with fears of flying or heights.

Adults are NOT permitted to hold a child in their arms during the tethered ride.

All passengers must be in good health. If you are pregnant, recently released from the hospital, have current broken bones or casts, you will not be able to qualify to purchase a ride. These balloons are not certified by the FAA to carry wheelchairs. The pilot will also be available to determine who can fly!

Reminder! Tethered Rides are only offered after morning sunrise launch and during the late afternoon sunset launch. They are not offered during the day. You will not see launched balloons during the day! Click here to read why!

Ticket Prices: 

Adult: $25/ride/person
Child: $20/ride/person (under 12)
Purchase tickets at the RIDE TENT onsite, at the Festival.

 Tethered Balloon Rides are sold onsite ONLY, are weather dependent, are on a first come first serve basis and at the individual pilot’s discretion.

HELICOPTER RIDE DETAILS

By Independent Helicopters, LLC

Ticket Prices: 

Adult and Child: $60/ride/person

Under age 2 FREE but must sit on adult’s lap

Purchase tickets at the RIDE TENT onsite, at the Festival.

The helicopter ride has a 7 minute duration and can carry approximately 3 passengers depending on weight. 

The overall combined passenger weight, including the pilot, is 500 pounds. 

 Helicopter rides are sold onsite ONLY, are weather dependent, are on a first come first serve basis and at the helicopter pilot’s discretion.

 

WHY DON’T HOT AIR BALLOONS FLY DURING THE DAY?  

When surface winds are calm, hot air balloon ride pilots can control the altitude of the balloon very finely by heating or venting the air inside. During the day these light surface winds are broken up by “thermals,” which are rising columns of warm air that spiral skywards, caused by the heating effect of the sun on the ground. Birds and glider pilots love them but for a hot air balloon, thermals make it very difficult to control the balloon. So, the warmer the day the greater the possibility of thermals.

Sunrise and Sunset

These are the optimal times to fly due to the low possibility of thermal activity. Hot air balloon flights rely on the wind being light, which is either the first few hours after dawn or just prior to dusk. Both of these situations can provide the opportunity for an enjoyable and safe balloon flight. For a safe balloon flight, surface winds must be less than 10 miles an hour during the hour either after dawn or before dusk. Of course we have to let our passengers know well before so we have to use forecasts and rely on this information to be able to make the decision to call the flight on. Sometimes the forecast will be wrong and we may on rare occasions have to cancel at the launch site because conditions just don’t work out as the forecasters would have us believe. Or conversely, we may end up cancelling a flight that turns out to be flyable, but only with the benefit of hindsight because it was just not predictable with any confidence.

Visibility

Visibility can be very difficult to predict and is probably the most commonly occurring error in weather forecasts. The different conditions to form mist, fog or low cloud are so subtle that they can vary within a few miles, with a low-lying valley area for example being fogged in and a neighboring area of elevated land being as clear as a bell.

If visibility issues are relevant to the forecast, our balloon pilots will want to access the most up to date information and may also rely on local knowledge.

Our Pilot cancelled and we saw other balloons flying?

First, every balloon flight’s pilot has to make their own judgment of the conditions in which they are confident to fly passengers. SAFETY is our #1 PRIORITY!

Here is more information on why balloons DO NOT fly during the day!

8 Reasons Why the Hot Air Balloons Didn’t Fly at the Festival