The Adirondack Balloon Festival is the oldest and largest balloon festival on the East Coast and attracts participants from all around the world. This year the event celebrates its 40th anniversary.
The 40th annual edition of the Adirondack Balloon Festival — considered the nation’s premier family-oriented event of its kind — is set for this weekend, and it features two “Moonglow” mass balloon light-up events, two nights of fireworks and a record number of specially-shaped balloons, festival organizer and President Mark Donohue said.
“ It’s going to be a grand show this year,” he said. “Our 40th anniversary is a celebration for our community. From its small humble beginnings, this balloon festival would not have become what it is without the incredible community commitment and participation.”
At no other balloon festival can spectators see dozens of colorful hot-air balloons take flight and get close enough to help a pilot and crew launch their craft.
This year’s event, set for Thursday, Sept. 19 through Sunday, Sept. 22, includes fancifully shaped craft among the 100-plus balloons from across the U.S. and Canada scheduled to participate.
With all activities free of charge, the festival kicks off at about 4:30 p.m. Thursday in Crandall Park in Glens Falls with a performance by the beloved country-rock group Stony Creek Band, the inbflation of a 40th anniversary birthday cake balloon, then a liftoff of up to 25 or more balloons, weather permitting.
From about 6 to 9 p.m., Glens Falls will be hosting a downtown balloon fest block party, which features a candlestick balloon glow, children’s activities, music, food, and fireworks.
On Friday, the festival moves to the Floyd Bennett Memorial Airport in Queensbury, where gates open at 3 p.m. for craft fair, vendors, and family activities. At 5 p.m. and thereafter, a launch of 80+ balloons including this year’s new shapes is to occur.
Following the liftoffs, activities move to Lake George Village for the first of the Moonglow events at Battlefield Park at dusk with fireworks over the lake.
On Saturday and Sunday at the airport, activities and breakfast begin at 5 a.m. Eighty to 90 balloons lift off at about 6:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. both days Vendors open up early and continue all day. On Saturday, a special balloon titled the World’s Largest Petting Zoo” is to debut. It features 10 specially shaped animal balloons that inflate side by side.
Saturday’s signature anniversary event will be the “40 for 40” Moonglow at the airport where there will be as many as 40 hot air balloons inflated and illuminating the night sky at 8 p.m.
All flights are weather permitting.
The airport liftoffs are so eagerly anticipated that they annually prompt people to get out of bed at 4 a.m. or earlier to get to the airport in time to beat the crowds.
The action at the airport includes an art show, concessions to benefit local charities, military aircraft on display, kites, a rock climbing wall and bounce houses for children, and church services on Sunday morning.
Spectators are urged to bring their camera because there are plenty of dramatic photo opportunities — but dogs are barred from the grounds.
Thursday festivities kick off at Crandall with the inflation of our 40th anniversary special shape birthday cake balloon, this will be followed by a flight of 25 balloons. Events move to downtown Glens Falls for the Block Party where highlights include a candlestick balloon glow, kid’s activities, music, food, and fireworks.
Newly available this year is VIP Parking. Located in front of the airport terminal, passes are available for a fee of $15 for the weekend. This provides priority parking and separate entrance and exits. For details, see: www.adirondackballoonfest.org.