Named by USA TODAY and NJ Monthly as a top NJ event, the NJ Lottery Festival of Ballooning takes place on July 29-31, 2022 at Hunterdon County’s Solberg Airport in Readington, NJ. 

The festival features up to 100 hot air balloons, concerts, family entertainment, crafters, vendors, and fireworks. The balloon ascension and balloon glow are spectacular sights that inspire thousands of stunning photographs and selfies. The event attracts upwards of 160,000 people, so it’s important to plan to have the best experience –  here’s what you need to know before you go! 


Event Info + Tickets

NJ Lottery Festival of Ballooning runs Friday, July 29 – Sunday, July 31.  The address for GPS is Solberg Airport, 39 Thor Solberg Road, Whitehouse Station, NJ.  Parking ($10 per vehicle) is on site, follow the signs.   

General Admission tickets are good for any ONE DAY of the festival. Guests may leave the festival grounds and re-enter using the same admission ticket – on the same day only.  Lawn seating for concerts is included in the general admission ticket price. 

Gate open and close times are as follows:

  • Friday: 1 p.m. open, 10 p.m. close
  • Saturday: 6 a.m. open, 10 p.m. close
  • Sunday: 6 a.m. open, 8 p.m. close

Tickets are $40 for adults, and $15 for children ages 4-12, but can be purchased on balloonfestival.com at a discount prior to the festival start date.  Children ages 0-3 are free.  There are different prices for VIP events, sunrise breakfast, 5K race, and reserved concert seating.  

And yes, you can go up, up and away in a beautiful balloon and experience the most magnificent view of the festival – from the air! Hot air balloon rides must be reserved in advance and are weather dependent. 

 


 Plan Your Day Around the Balloon Ascensions

Balloon ascensions take place on Friday at 6:30 p.m. and on Saturday and Sunday at 6:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m.  Don’t miss this spectacular, awe-inspiring highlight of the festival, with over 100 balloons inflating and ascending into the sky!  Special shaped balloons include a rocket, a tiger, a flying saucer, a panda, a sun, and a pink unicorn named “Allycorn.”        

The balloons do not go up at any other times other than scheduled ascension times, and the ascension is weather dependent.  There are no refunds if an ascension is delayed or canceled so watch the weather and wind forecast, and plan your day accordingly.  

If you are an early bird, the 6:30am ascension on Saturday or Sunday is your best bet. Go very early, especially if the weather is good!   If you don’t live too far away, you can leave the festival grounds and re-enter using the same admission ticket on the same day.

For the 6:30 p.m. ascension, arrive by early-afternoon on Saturday, typically the busiest day of the festival.  On Sunday, arrive early to mid afternoon for the 6:30 p.m. ascension. Be aware that on Sunday after the ascension, everyone leaves at once so it can take extra time to exit the airport.

 

Saturday Night Magical Balloon Glow 

 The Balloon Glow takes place on Saturday evening at sundown, beginning around 8:30pm. This spectacular sight is truly something special!   At predetermined signals, the pilots blast the propane burners, releasing a burst of flames into the balloon. The balloons “glow” like huge fireflies, a magical sight.  

Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Todd Rundgren will perform on the main stage beginning at 8:00pm on Saturday, and the glow will take place during the concert – a truly unique experience of sight and sound! 

 

What to Bring, and What NOT to Bring

The wide open Solberg airport is perfect for launching balloons, but there is very little shade, and the festival takes place in an open field.   Bring a hat, sunscreen, a blanket or chairs, and wear comfortable walking shoes.  Make sure your phone or camera is charged – the photo opps are legendary!

Allowed:

  • Backpacks and bags (subject to search)
  • Chairs
  • Blankets
  • Umbrellas

NOT Allowed:

  • Coolers and outside food and beverages
  • Tents 
  • Pets (except service animals)  

Everything Else

Once you’ve planned your day to ensure you experience the majesty of the balloon ascension, there is so much more to see and do!  Entertainment highlights include fireworks on Friday; music performances by Kansas, Todd Rundgren, Collective Soul, and several tribute bands throughout the festival.

There’s family entertainment including music, magic shows,  and the “world record breaking human cannonball David “The Bullet” Smith.”  Amusement rides, arts & craft vendors, food vendors from around the world, and tethered balloon rides are also part of the fun. On Sunday morning, the “Running with the Balloons 5K” attracts over 1,000 runners. 

Additional Information and event schedules can be found at balloonfestival.com

In addition to the balloon festival, Hunterdon County is home to dozens of summer festivals and outdoor events.  Located only an hour from Philadelphia and New York, Hunterdon County’s location is ideal for day trips and weekend getaways, and we invite you to explore Hunterdon County, NJ! 

 The Flemington Corn Tomato and Beer Festival takes place on August 13, 2022 on Stangl Road, the heart of Flemington’s Arts & Culture District. Popular with foodies and families, the event features corn and tomato dishes from local restaurants, food trucks, a NJ craft beer garden, artisans, live music, and family entertainment. 

On August 24-28, 2022, the Hunterdon County 4-H Fair takes place at the County Fairgrounds in Ringoes. This delightful old-fashioned country fair has it all – amusement rides, stage shows, live music, contests and awards for farmers, crafters, and cooks, and lots of animals — cows, horses, sheep, goats, pigs, rabbits, and alpacas. 

Information about visiting Hunterdon County can be found at ExploreHunterdonNJ.com.