You don’t need to go all the way to New Mexico to enjoy the splendor of hot-air balloons massing in the sky, or to cross experiencing a skyride in one off your bucket list. The much-loved Hudson Valley Hot-Air Balloon Festival is returning to the Dutchess County Fairgrounds in Rhinebeck from 4 p.m. Friday to 8 p.m. Sunday, July 12 to 14, for its 28th annual visitation.
When it comes to balloon launches, safety comes first, and schedules always have to be flexible based on weather conditions. So, although tickets are already on sale for admission to the Fairgrounds, you’ll have to queue up on the day in question, with $20 extra cash in hand, to secure your chance to go aloft for a tethered ride. Three-hour untethered rides, by prepurchase only, are available for $250 in the morning and $275 in the evening. Mass launches – as spectacle only, but what a spectacle! – are planned for 6 p.m. all three days and 6 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Watching the balloons slowly take shape as they’re inflated is a big part of the fun.
The site closes between 9 a.m. and noon on Saturday and Sunday. In the early-to-midafternoon, when atmospheric conditions are never favorable for launches, there’s plenty of other stuff to do on the ground: live music, beverage tastings for the grownups, climbable attractions and field games for the youngsters, live raptor and reptile shows, magicians and clowns and lots of fair food. Helicopter rides are also available for an extra fee of $70. To see the full schedule, visit www.dcrcoc.org/
Ticket prices are $10 in advance, $14 at the gate per day general admission; $25 in advance/$42 at the gate for the full weekend; $8 for seniors and military personnel (Friday at the gate only); free for children under age 3. Kids aged 4 to 15 get a voucher good for eight carnival games with their admission. To purchase advance tickets, visit https://app.gopassage.com/
Hudson Valley Balloon Festival
Friday, July 12, 4 p.m.-Sunday, July 14, 8 p.m.
$8-$42 entry, $20 tethered balloon rides, $70 helicopter rides
Dutchess County Fairgrounds
6 Dutchess County Fairgrounds
6550 Spring Brook Ave. (Rte. 9), Rhinebeck