The timeless appeal behind ballooning, an experience Adirondack Balloon Company Owner Kiersten Owen describes as the “closest sensation to floating,” is at the heart of why close to 150,000 people descend on Lake George to ascend at the Adirondack Balloon Festival.
It’s not hard to understand the appeal. A hot air balloon flight is the closest non-astronauts will get to achieving weightlessness, bracketed as it often is by gentle breezes and phenomenal views.
“It’s a bucket list item for so many people,” Owen says.
The wonder generated by the balloons has endured through the years, and it helps to explain why the festival – slated for September 21-24 in 2017 and celebrating its 45th anniversary – forms arguably the largest free ballooning festival in the United States. Between the main attraction made of brightly colored fabric floating and bobbing in the early autumn sky, there are also all the trappings of a traditional Northeast festival, including food vendors, aviation displays, and live music, all put on for free by a huge cast of volunteers.
It all adds up to an amazing tableau. Owen said cell service can be spotty because everyone at the festival tends to take pictures and attempt to upload them to social media at the same time, straining the local cell tower.
The biggest draw is the unmatched view, which you’ll quickly come to understand when you’re soaring above verdant hardwood and pine forests, taking in the majestic Adirondacks, and watching boats ply the blue waters of Lake George.
“I personally cannot think of a better way to see it all than by a hot air balloon. It’s a beautiful backdrop, and having flown in many parts of the country and the world, this is definitely one of the prettiest places I’ve seen,” Owen says.
Adirondack Balloon Festival Picks
Flight of 100 Balloons
This is the biggest single flight of balloons the entire weekend, and it’s well worth making your way to the festivities at the Saturday start time of 6:30 a.m. or the encore at 5 p.m. to see the morning sun blotted out by vessels in every shape, size, and color.
Catch 30-plus hot air balloons ascending, lit only by the pale glow of a waxing crescent moon. It’s highly recommended you bring a flashlight to find your way around the field, but if the weather cooperates, you’ll have little trouble spotting the balloons themselves.
Fair and Aircraft Display
The festival is a celebration of ballooning, but it’s also a traditional Northeast-style fair. Catch impressive display aircrafts, arts and crafts, delicious local food, and a rock climbing wall, all against the backdrop of hundreds of hot air balloons.
Book a Flight
It’s not officially part of the festivities, but with so many balloons in one spot, you’d be remiss not to take to the skies and enjoy Lake George from above. Just pack warm clothing to fend off the chill in the September air.