During the early days of August, look up in the sky. It won’t be a bird, nor a plane and it won’t even be Superman. It’ll be 100 hot air balloons.
The International Balloon Festival of Saint Jean-sur-Richelieu is the largest gathering of balloons in Canada. The week-long event caters to the entire family and is an easy 40-minute drive off the island of Montreal.
In what started off as a balloon festival, the event has grown to host food vendors, bar outlets, live bands, theatre performances, activities and has garnered a reputation on an international scale. This year’s outdoor party will feature hot air balloons from Canada, the United States, France and Brazil.
The festival’s daily balloon shows include a variety of both nightly launches and early morning shows, some fleets going as early as 6 am as the sun begins to rise.
If a sky full of balloons isn’t enough for you, the fest also includes an obstacle course, a petting zoo, amusement park rides, a skate park and virtual reality games.
Some of the International Balloon Festival bands include Simple Plan, Tom Cochrane with Red Rider, Eric Lapointe, and Émile Bilodeau, separated on three massive stages throughout the venue.
Obviously, a festival with this many balloons also offers flights for people wishing to float through the open air. Bookings are available online and must be registered 2 days before the flying dates begin on August 11.
6 am flight launches are available for $180 per person and 6 pm nighttime flights cost $220 per. Each gondola can fit between 2 to 6 people and the balloon flights last for an hour.
Day passes are available for $10-$30 depending on age and date chosen and full festival packages and family deals are available between $30-$80. All tickets include the event site, entertainment, activities, and balloon shows.
International Balloon Festival
When: August 11 – 19
Time: Weekdays from 2:30 pm – the end of the show, weekends from 12 pm – the end of the show
Where: 5 Chemin de l’Aéroport, Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu