The Adirondack Mountains are a spectacular backdrop for the colorful display of balloons at the Adirondack Balloon Festival. Four days of launches and flights, musical performances, kids’ activities, and a craft fair all make for a family-oriented event not to be missed.
The pilots of these giant flying shapes put on a majestic show of grace as they move across the sky. Imagine up to 100 balloons soaring in the air at sunrise and sunset, the optimal times of day for taking flight. Some of the balloon activities take place at the Floyd Bennett Memorial Airport in Queensbury. Join the crowd in the evening for the thrill of the “Airport Moonglow.”
The balloons are illuminated while tethered to the ground. Some of the events, such as a block party and car show, take place in Glens Falls at Crandall Park. Keep in mind that a jaunt over there is part of the fun.
While in the area, explore the Adirondack Northway interstate highway, called one of the most scenic in the United States. Stop at an amusement park, play a round of golf, and hike a beautiful nature park.
Explore surrounding areas like Saratoga Springs or Lake George and choose a camping location there. If you would like to stay right in the heart of the action at the festival, join the Northeast Hot Air RVers Club to secure a spot with a fantastic view.
The Adirondack Balloon Festival is free for all to attend. The organizers do welcome donations and hope that balloon enthusiasts will support the cause by buying festival apparel as a show of support and community-mindedness. Visit www.adirondackballoonfest.org for the schedule of events and information on the balloons that will be featured.
I-87 is the alternate name for the scenic Adirondack Northway route. Be sure to take your time as you drive in, making stops along the way to explore a lake or creek. Watch for wildlife, sure to be present as you drive through forested areas. Keep abreast of road or weather conditions by tuning in to local radio stations as you travel. Cell phone service may be spotty and stations intermittent, so top up the gas of your motorhome when you can. The Floyd Bennett Memorial Airport and Crandall Park are where many of the events are conducted and are about a 15-minute drive from one another.
Check the balloon fest website to learn about the availability of paid VIP parking for those who want a close spot and the possibility of lighter traffic. Non-VIP, free parking is plentiful and easily accessed. There is ADA parking at both locations. Either way, patience is a necessity for the entire weekend as traffic is an issue, especially around launch times.
The Greater Glens Falls Transit system services the area, including Queensbury in Warren County. The bus goes to Washington and Saratoga counties as well in case you want to use public transit to explore towns there, too. Ride-sharing and taxi companies take care of tourists as well, ferrying visitors near and far.
The Adirondack Balloon Festival does not have a campground, but if you would like to join the Northeast Hot Air RVers camping club, you can park on the hill above the airport for a weekend of fun group gatherings. There are no hookups, and the RV camping rules state your rig must be self-contained with integrated tanks for holding fresh, grey, and black water. Guests must bring garbage home and must refrain from campfires. Don't forget to send in your application for membership, if this option appeals to you and your crew.
Whether you prefer privately or state-owned campgrounds, the Adirondack region has hundreds to pick from with a variety of styles. Often called the best place for RV camping, this mountainous area offers waterfront sites and forest service parks that are sure to please. Things to do in the Adirondack Park region are hiking, kayaking, picnicking, museum exploration, shopping, and dining. September is a beautiful time to visit the Adirondacks. Plan to stay awhile.
The event is held on a grassy area at the Floyd Bennett Memorial Airport. Because paved areas surround the venue, wheelchairs, strollers, and wagons can be navigated within sight of the balloons. To see the vendor booths and crafts displays in the event of inclement weather, assistance may be required to get from booth to booth. Crandall Park may have a bit more grass to contend with but usually has plenty to keep the kids motivated.
Fall is approaching when the festival is held, which means the air can be cool and dew will settle on the grass overnight. Rubber boots are ideal for the feet to keep them dry. Pack sneakers in your bag for during the day, after the sun has dried the grass. The layering of clothes is a must. You will want a sweater for the morning and evening, but a t-shirt will do for in between these times. For the campground, pack rain gear and easy to wash clothes. The kids will want to explore every rock and hill as they play.
Bring lawn chairs and blankets for comfy seating to observe the balloons, and flashlights for navigating your way to the car after the balloon glow. Pack your cooler with water, but leave glass containers out of the mix. Don’t forget your camera. Enter your favorite festival pic in the photo contest and keep them as fond memories, too.
Stay hydrated throughout the day by packing drinks or purchasing a refreshment from a vendor. Remind the kids in between games to take a rest. Instruct the family on balloon festival etiquette; if tether ropes are within reach, do not step on them and don’t touch the balloon fabric. Back at your motorhome or pop-up oasis, teach campfire rules and stress the importance of not playing near the fire ring.
The mountain air is sure to hike up the appetites. Be ready for an onslaught of hungry trekkers, canoeists, and birdwatchers by stocking the refrigerator with premade hearty sandwiches and salads. No work for the chef when everything is prepared and ready to go. After a long day of activity, relax around the fire, and design fun s’mores for dessert. An equipped campervan means shopping for camp stove fuel and charcoal briquets before leaving home.
Heading into town for a little retail therapy? Be sure to check out a local pub while there to give the cook the night off. If you are looking for a light meal, visit a gourmet cafe for a quick bite. Stop at the bakery on the way home to pick up fresh muffins or scones for breakfast or to pack in the cooler as a festival snack. Queensbury and Glen Falls have many restaurants to please every taste.
Hungry balloon enthusiasts can scout the vendor booths for their favorite festival dishes. The craft fair and merchandise tents are the places to look for artisan handiwork and balloon memorabilia. Support this community-minded event. Every purchase goes toward things like a scholarship fund and proceeds to keep the Adirondack Balloon Festival happening every year.
Smoking is strictly forbidden due to the use of propane by the balloon pilots. Stray ashes or sparks could spell disaster. Drones cannot be used in proximity to the launch and flight areas. You may think your dog would like to come along, but experience shows that the hiss and high pitch sound emitted by the burners is unnerving to dogs. Because of this, pets, other than certified services dogs, must be left at home.
Balloon enthusiasts soon learn the intricacies of the weather when it comes to balloon flight. The wind conditions and cloud cover are two factors, as are rain and impending rough conditions. The pilots and organizers will make every effort to see the launches go ahead, but have patience in the event of a delay or cancellation. Dress for every occasion and layer your clothing.
Camping season calls for a well-stocked first aid kit. Bumps, bruises, cuts and a bit too much sun are typical scenarios. Be prepared with colorful kid-approved band-aids and gauze wraps. Check the expiration date of essential supplies like peroxide and antibiotic ointment. The communities of Glenn Falls and Queensbury offer both medical and drug store services within a 20-mile radius of the balloon events.