Balloons taking flight in mass ascension – what could be more exciting? Taking a ride in one, of course. If you would rather take part in the fun on the ground, you can walk into a balloon turned on its side, and experience the colors that way. There is also an evening balloon glow where the structures are inflated and lit up for a blazing show of vibrant hues.
There are competitions to cheer on, and a pilot meet and greet. Learn about the importance of wind conditions and what the chase crew does. Skydiving exhibitions and circus performances add to the entertainment factor. Take the family to the Kids Zone, visit artisan booths, buy festival memorabilia, and take a rest under the beer tent.
While in the area, take the time to see Statesville, NC. This is a city with an interesting historical background. In the 1750s, settlers came to colonize the region. Tracks for the railroad were laid in the 1830s, and the rest is history. To learn more about this southern state, discover Fort Dobbs State Historic Site or view the fully operational Linney’s Mill.
Park your RV in the field next to the festivities for a fantastic view of the airborne balloons. Download the application soon to get a spot as they fill up fast.
Children 12 and under get into the festival for free. Adults can purchase a pass for one day or the entire weekend. Some tickets will include free parking. Expect to spend between $10 and $60 for parking and admission to the balloon fest. Visit www.carolinaballoonfest.com for the specifics. Balloon ride prices are separate from the admission cost.
The Carolina Balloon Fest is held adjacent to the Statesville Regional Airport. Verify your selected parking address on the site before heading to the event. The I-77 and I-40 are the routes that will get you there. Set the GPS and have your navigator keep an eye out for signage. Stay tuned to the local radio station for weather and road alert information in North Carolina.
If you are staying on site, you can drive to the RV parking lot right beside the venue. Or if camping elsewhere, when you purchase your admission ticket, you can choose between the onsite parking for a daily fee or offsite parking, which is usually free of cost. See the website for the parking option that suits your family best. Spots do fill up quickly in the free zone. ADA parking is in the lot nearest the event. There are accessible shuttles to transport attendees to the grounds.
Park and ride is a great choice for those who want to arrive at the balloon fest without a care in the world. Take a drive in an air-conditioned charter bus with plenty of storage for umbrellas, chairs, coolers, and other bags. The parking is free, and it is less than 10 minutes to the festival. Visit the website to find out the exact locations of the park and ride lots.
There is onsite camping at Carolina Balloon Fest, with reservations required. All sites are dry camping only. Park on the grass site and be right next to the action; don't forget to bring blocking if you will have a larger rig. Wake up to the excitement of vibrant colored balloons preparing to launch. A bonus to your reservation is two weekend passes to the festival with an option to upgrade to the hospitality tent. Enjoy excellent views if you go that route.
You’ve got lakeside, forested camping just a short drive away from the Carolina Balloon Festival. Claim a spot with full services, roll out the shade cover and enjoy your home away from home in between balloon launch sessions. After a fun day at the field, explore the area further by visiting a zoo, winery, or your favorite historic site.
Because the fest is held in a field off the airport, expect uneven terrain. Those in a wheelchair may want to have a friend or family along to help navigate in difficult to traverse areas, or in the event of rain. Prepare the kids for lots of walking and encourage them to keep the right attitude by discussing the Kids Zone. Let them know that after a walk around the event, they can play on the bouncy toys, climb a rock wall, or maybe even take a tether ride.
Dress in layers to ensure that you are not cold while awaiting the morning launch. Hats and gloves are a good idea as the site is open and may be windy. The wind is not ideal, however, because it prevents the pilots from taking flight. Bring along rain gear just in case, including boots. The field may get muddy if rain makes an appearance. Pack cozy sweatshirts for nights at the campground.
Tote your snacks and unopened water bottles in a small cooler. Large coolers must be left at home. Lawn chairs and blankets make for comfy seating during the launches or the glow event, where tethered balloons are lit up for all to see. Small umbrellas only, please in the event of rain. Camp gear should include a small radio, flashlights, toiletries, and extra blankets for chilly nights.
Bug spray and sunscreen are a must for any camping trip, but especially when camped in forested areas of North Carolina. Bring along moisture cream for dry skin in the event of windy conditions at the field. Prep the kids on balloon fest safety by explaining that they need to watch out for tether lines and deflated balloon fabric.
A weekend in the fresh autumn air calls for a menu full of hearty, easy to prepare dishes. Plan ahead and have some ready-made meals in the RV refrigerator such as lasagna, chili, or vegetable soup. Bring along fresh bread and some fruit for an easy after-fest dinner. Stock your rig with necessary pots and utensils and make sure the propane and water are topped up before leaving home.
Statesville has a large variety of eateries to check out on an evening where the cook takes the night off. Make it a pizza night or satisfy a hearty appetite with American style diner food. You could go for Chinese or Mexican, or sample delicious southern barbecue.
Have plenty of cash on hand to support the local vendors serving warm and filling dishes like gyros and chicken kabobs. The artisan village is a popular part of the fest, with unique crafts and handmade goods you won’t want to miss. Take home a festival souvenir; there is a tent dedicated to fun merchandise to remind you of the spectacular balloon displays.
Volunteers are trained to ensure that the festival is run safely and securely. Many non-profit organizations reach out to be affiliated with the Carolina Balloon Fest, which is a not for profit event that donates proceeds to worthy causes every year. Continue the community spirit by following festival rules. No alcohol is allowed to be brought into the fest, and your bags will be checked for safety purposes as you enter.
Everyone hopes for a sunny, calm weekend so that the launches can go off without a hitch. Windy conditions will delay the balloons on the ground, but there is plenty to do in the meantime. Visit an inflated balloon that has been laid on its side so that you can walk inside the colorful designs. Be amazed by the massiveness of the structure. Dress warm as the weather will be cool in the morning and evening.
When prepping for your road trip, needed medications are an item to top the list. Always carry your medication in the proper packaging. Store medicines out of the reach of children. A camping trip is not complete without a few bumps and scrapes so include colorful band-aids in the first aid kit along with antibiotic cream and after bug bite relief.