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Day Trip to New Jersey Festival of Ballooning 

By Joanne Colella

If you’d like a day trip suggestion that will take you up, up and away, then look no further because there is a perfect opportunity coming up soon that rises above all the rest! From July 26 through July 28, you will have three days from which to choose to head to the 37th Annual QuickChek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning. Held at Solberg Airport in Readington, this is billed as the largest summertime hot air balloon and music festival in North America. It has earned the New Jersey Governor’s Award for Best Special Event and has been named, multiple times, as one of the Top 100 Festivals in North America. This year, approximately 165,000 guests are expected to attend this awe-inspiring display of airborne artistry and topnotch entertainment.

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Festival fans have the choice of arriving early, staying late, coming on just one day or coming for all three, depending on what piques their interest amid the tremendous lineup of activities. Throughout the day, the expansive grounds will be filled with hundreds of vendors selling crafts, merchandise and food, plus amusement rides, kids’ concerts, magic shows, trampoline performances, Pilates and stretch classes, sunrise yoga and more. There’s even a 5K race, now in its 10th year, to be held that Sunday morning. It offers runners a flat, fast course over a mix of surfaces that essentially make it part cross-country, part traditional road race, all under the shadows of dozens of balloons aloft in the sky. Like the festival itself, the 5K race has won multiple accolades as one of the best 5K events in the country.

Each evening at the annual event, there are live musical performances by renowned popular performers. This year, the headliners will include ABBA The Concert on Friday; The Band Perry on Saturday; and The Beach Boys on Sunday.

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The festival hours are 1 to 10 pm Friday, 6 am to 10 pm Saturday, and 6 am to 8 pm Sunday. Opening day is dubbed “Balloons, Tunes, & Booms,” featuring a mass ascension of up to 100 enormous hot air balloons at 6:30 pm, followed by ABBA The Concert at 8 pm and a colorful fireworks display at 9:30 pm. Besides the 6:30 pm balloon ascension Friday evening, there will be additional ascensions at 6:30 am and again at 6:30 pm on both Saturday and Sunday. Since the balloon flights, understandably enough, are subject to wind and weather conditions, attendees always hope for Mother Nature to cooperate so as not to miss the astounding sight of so many colors, shapes, sizes and designs rising into the air all around. And if you’d rather not strain your neck looking up at all those magnificent balloons, you can always opt to ride in one instead. Balloon rides are a real treat, indeed, and are offered for $240, $275 or $295 per person, depending on which day and time you’re planning to rise to the skies.

General admission tickets, good for any one day of the festival, for adults are $24 until June 23, $30 from June 24 through July 24, and $35 thereafter. Children, ages 4 to 12, are $10, $12 or $15, respectively. In addition to the advance purchase discount, coupons are often available at QuickChek locations and elsewhere, so be sure to look for deals. Besides viewing the balloons and all the other activities and displays, general admission tickets also include lawn seating for the concerts. Reserved tickets may also be purchased at an additional cost.

For more information, tickets and directions, visit, call 973-882-5464 or follow QuickChek NJ Festival of Ballooning on Facebook, NJ Balloon Festival on Twitter and @njballoonfest on Instagram.

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