The Great Smoky Mountain Hot Air Balloon Festival

great smoky mountain hot air balloon fest

The Great Smoky Mountain Hot Air Balloon Fest is more than a bunch of hot air! Photo credit – gsmballoonfest.com.

The Great Smoky Mountain Hot Air Balloon Festival will light up the Smokies on Saturday August 18, 2018. Beginning at 3 p.m. and culminating with a spectacular glowing extravaganza, the second annual Great Smoky Mountain Balloon Festival is scheduled at The Townsend Visitors Center at 7006 SE. Lamar Alexander Parkway in Townsend, Tennessee.

Although the balloons will not be launched, short tethered rides (weather permitting) will be available. A short-aside here; hot air balloons cannot fly in rain because the heat from inside the balloon would cause the rain water to boil thus melting the balloon – not an adventure you want to encounter. Rides are scheduled from 6 pm – 8 pm and last approximately 5 -7 minutes rising to a height of about 30 feet. Tickets, for ages 8 and above, are $20 per person.

Visitors will also enjoy an up close look at the colorful and often whimsical balloons, the mechanism involved in launching them, and the huge wicker passenger baskets.

Balloons which glow for more than an hour, beginning about 8pm and lasting until 9:30pm, will provide a dramatic focal point for Tennessee’s famed sunsets. If inclement weather occurs, balloonist will perform a candlestick glow.

No outside food or beverages are permitted but there will be plenty of food vendors to satisfy every palate. A craft beer tent will offer a variety of regional brews and Nine Lakes Wine Country Wine Tasting is scheduled from 3pm-9pm. Tickets for the wine sampling (which includes a commemorative wine glass and wine tote) are $10. Wines will also be available for purchase by the bottle or case during the event. The wine garden opens at 3 p.m. and closes at 9 p.m.

Additional family friendly activities include live entertainment, arts and craft vendors; face painting; Eurobungy; a rock climbing wall; a trackless train, and a fun-filled water balloon war for the more intrepid.

Bring your camera-take your best shot and enter the GSM Hot Air Balloon Photo contest. Photos can be submitted to KMitchel@blountpartnership.com and should be accompanied by your name, phone number and a brief description of where it was taken.

Parking passes may be purchased online at brownpapertickets.com for $20 and guarantees a parking spot. Cost to park on the day of the event is $25. There is no handicap parking but shuttles will be provided for anyone needing assistance. The parking lot opens at 2:30 p.m.

This is a rain or shine event and parking passes are non-refundable. Pets are welcomed but must be leashed and poop bags are required. Be warned: inflating balloons is a noisy process and may frighten four-legged friends.

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