Arts & Entertainment

More Than 100 Hot Air Balloons Poised to Fill the Skies Over Hunterdon County During Annual Balloon Festival

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READINGTON, NJ --- The skies over Hunterdon will be filled with balloons from around the world as the 34th annual QuickChek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning gets ready to take off.

The three-day festival, July 29-30-31, at Solberg Airport here, features the spectacle of 100 sport and special shaped hot air balloons taking to the skies twice each day in mass ascensions.

The annual festival is the largest summertime hot air balloon and music festival in North America.

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New special shaped balloons include the 115-foot-tall QuickChek Farmer Pig balloon from Brazil, complete with blue overalls and weighing in at a trim 440 pounds.

Two new balloons that are sure to make you go “aaawwwww” are Puddles and Splash, a pair of adorable 90-foot-tall penguins from the United Kingdom that kiss in mid-flight.

There’s also a brand new 85-foot-tall pelican; a 75-foot-tall, 500-pound Brazilian piranha; and a big white bear from Bimbo Bakeries.  

Returning favorites include the 5-story tall PNC American Flag balloon, the largest free-flying flag in the world; the 100-foot-tall Unique Photo panda bear; the 80-foot-tall Pepsi football; and the 87-foot-tall Piko character balloon from Canada. In all, balloons are being flown by pilots from six countries.

And yes, you can go up, up and away in your beautiful balloon: more than 1,000 people will take a ride in a balloon at the festival, crossing it off their bucket lists or using it to celebrate a special occasion or as a romantic way to propose!

The festival’s popular live concert series features ‘90s alternative rock band Third Eye Blind presented by PNC in association with Magic 98.3FM on Friday, July 29 followed by a fireworks show; The Girl and The Dreamcatcher featuring Disney’s Dove Cameron & Ryan McCartan on Saturday afternoon, July 30; the New Jersey Lottery presents KC & The Sunshine Band on Saturday, July 30 in association with NJ101.5FM and in conjunction with the festival’s nighttime hot air balloon glow; and John Kay & Steppenwolf and Foghat perform Sunday, July 31 in association with Q104.3FM.

The festival offers 39 hours of affordable family entertainment including “The Greatest Glow on Earth” nighttime balloon glow where balloons are inflated and lit up while tethered on the ground; a fireworks display; the Advil Running with the Balloons 5K Cross-Road Challenge presented by Power Crunch; children’s amusement rides and entertainment in the Jeep Family Fun Center; exciting interactive exhibits and hundreds of crafters and food vendors.

Tickets are available at all QuickChek store locations, by calling 1-800-HOT-AIR9, or online at www.balloonfestival.com.

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