READINGTON TOWNSHIP, NJ (Hunterdon County) – Before heading out to the 37th Annual QuickChek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning at Soldberg Airport in Readington Township, which starts this Friday, July 26 and runs through Sunday, July 28, here is what you need to know.
Buy your tickets in advance. Organizers expect thousands of people over the three days at the QuickChek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning at Solberg Airport, so to avoid lines and save money, buy tickets in advance online or at any QuickChek store. Adult general admission is $30 before Thursday and $35 at the gate. Tickets for children ages 4 to 12 are $12 before Thursday and $15 at the gate, and all general admission tickets include lawn seating for concerts. Children 3 and under are free.
What is the best time for watching the balloons? Festival organizers suggests coming early to the 6:30 a.m. ascensions on Saturday and Sunday if you want to see balloons and beat the crowd of the 6:30 p.m. ascensions each night.
Want to ride in a hot air balloon? Balloon rides at the QuickChek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning cost $240 per person in the morning, $275 per person in the evening on Friday and Sunday,and $295 per person in the evening on Saturday. Sorry, no children’s discounts. Beware: taking a balloon ride may induce “love at first flight.” Tethered rides allow you to get a small taste of ballooning without leaving the festival grounds. These balloons are tied to vehicles with tether ropes about 50-75 feet in length. When you get into the basket, the balloon goes up until the ropes are fully extended and then returns to the ground. The ride lasts about 5 minutes and can take place any time during the day as long as the winds are calm. This is a great way to start your day at the festival as it allows you to see the whole thing at once. You can purchase tethered rides on-site only for $20 a person. The price is the same for both children and adults. If the balloon ascension is cancelled due to weather you may either reschedule your ride for another ascension during the festival or you can receive a full refund.
What about parking? The festival offers the convenience of 80 plus acres of on-site parking. In addition, on Saturday and Sunday from noon until close, Free Express Shuttle Buses will run continuously between the festival and nearby Raritan Valley Community College. For directions to the on-site and remote parking areas, visit the Directions page. Unfortunately, there is no mass transit (buses or trains) that goes directly to Solberg Airport.
What else is there to do? The festival offers hundreds of vendors offering arts and crafts. For night-time entertainment check out the fireworks on Friday at 9:30 p.m. and the unique balloon glow on Saturday at 8:30 p.m., Sunrise Yoga and YogaSoul at Health and Wellness Day 7 a.m. Sunday and at 8:05 a.m. Sunday the Running with the Balloons 5K.
How about for the kids? Children’s entertainment includes some new amusement rides, magic shows, Dr. Planet & Fun with Character Ed, Steve Cool Beans Pullara & His Cool Beans Music® and Grammy Award-winner Dan Zanes and Claudia Eliaza have an exuberant family concert that appeals as much to adults as it does to children on Friday at 1:30 p.m.
Don’t forget the concerts every night. Amanda Ayala on Friday at 5 p.m., ABBA The Concert (A Tribute To ABBA) on Friday at 8 p.m., The Band Perry on Saturday at 8 p.m., and The Beach Boys at 3 p.m. on Sunday. Check out the festival’s schedule of events for more information.
What should you bring? For the lawn concerts, festival organizers suggest you bring a blanket or lawn chairs, but tents are not allowed. Only service animals are allowed on festival grounds.
What is there to eat? Coolers, bottles and outside food are not permitted on the festival grounds for safety reasons but guests can enjoy a variety of vendors selling favorites like cheese steak, Italian sausage, pizza, hamburgers and hot dogs as well as the festival’s signature dish the Hot Air Balloon Funnel Cake. QuickChek has built a 3,000 square foot store right on the festival grounds and once again delivers by bringing their delicious subs, shakes, coffee, etc. to your convenience. A number of food companies distribute free samples throughout the day.
Keep in mind, the weather. The festival’s organizers can’t control the weather and its safety first. There are no refunds for tickets purchased to the festival, so plan accordingly.
Presidential Impact: In short, “No need to worry – the festival will go on as usual.” As a professionally produced event coordinated with the FAA, federal and local agencies, the festival won’t be grounded during a presidential visit to the area.