READINGTON — The 28th annual Quick Chek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning in Association with PNC, the largest summertime hot air balloon and music festival in North America, is ready to take off July 23-24-25 at Solberg Airport in Readington in Hunterdon County.
The three-day festival offers a different theme each day, but the ones that stand out for the entire weekend are value and affordability.
“We know that consumers are carefully spending their hard-earned money hoping to get the most they can in return,” said Festival Executive Producer Howard Freeman. “When you’re looking for something special to do with the kids, you’ll find the average day at an area theme park or even the movies costs more in comparison.” Freeman noted this is the fourth year in a row general admission prices have not increased.
Opening Day on Friday, July 23 is “Balloons, Tunes & Booms” with the first scheduled mass hot air balloon ascension at 6:30 p.m.; Air Supply in concert at 8 p.m., and fireworks at 9:30 p.m.
“Summer’s Biggest Block Party” is an all-day affair on Saturday, July 24, beginning with a mass ascension at 6:30 a.m., Hannah Montana co-star Emily Osment in concert at 2 p.m., an evening mass ascension at 6:30 p.m., George Thorogood & the Destroyers in concert in conjunction with the “Greatest Glow on Earth” hot air balloon glow at 8 p.m.
“Health & Wellness Day” on Sunday, July 25 begins with an early morning mass ascension at 6:30 a.m., the first-ever Trinitas “Running with the Balloons” Charity 5K and Family Run, a hatha sunrise yoga and zumba workout beginning at 8 a.m., ‘80’s heartthrob Rick Springfield in concert at 3 p.m., and the closing mass ascension at 6:30 p.m.
Festival favorite balloons include the Quick Chek Farm Fresh, the PNC American Flag, and the Little Bees. New special shapes this year are Mini Bee and two balloons from Brazil: the huge Haunted House complete with a ghost, pumpkins and a witch; and the 105,000 cubic foot Mr. Scarecrow.
For the price of admission, Festival-goers receive:
Unlimited daily access to the mass ascensions of up to 125 hot air balloons taking to the skies; lawn seating to concerts; a fireworks show; a nighttime hot air balloon glow where balloons are lit like lanterns; the opportunity to relax in the Quick Chek Hospitality Tent; death-defying stunts from the Red Bull Air Force skydiving team from their upcoming movie Human Flight: 3D; trapeze artists the Flying Pages; interactive exhibits from the PNC Mobile Learning Center, the AT&T Technology Zone featuring the newest wireless smartphones and services, the Zhu Zhu Pets Zhuniverse, and Volkswagen America; and hundreds of arts and crafters and food vendors, many of whom will be giving out free samples and products when you stop by their booths.
Hot air balloon rides are available; please note that all balloon activity is wind and weather permitting.
The Festival is offering upgraded food and beverage service featuring new oven-baked pizzas and mouth-watering subs and a full range of beverages from coffees to milkshakes from the on-site Quick Chek store, as well as traditional festival fare including balloon-shaped funnel cakes from Greenlight Food Service of Long Valley. Adult beverages will also be available and be permitted to be enjoyed throughout the Festival grounds.
Admission is $17 in advance for adults (through July 22, $25 at the gate), $7 in advance for children ages 4-12 ($10 at gate) and children 3 and under are free. Tickets are available at all Quick Chek locations, by calling 1-800-HOTAIR9 or online at www.balloonfestival.com.
On-site parking is available all three days beginning Friday for just $5 a day or attendees can park for free at nearby Raritan Valley Community College and take the Free Express Shuttle Bus to the Festival on Saturday and Sunday.
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