Hot air ballooning has been an international pastime since the late-1700s’ advent of human-carrying-flight technology, particularly of some fascination in the United States since the country’s first liftoff in 1793. The U.S. flight launched from a prison yard in Philadelphia. Pa., and landed safety in New Jersey, becoming the first of many hot air balloon flights across the country. The U.S. flight however, was not the first in the world, it actually occurred 10 years after the world’s first flight in Paris, France, in the fall of 1783 — something of a scientific wonder for its time.
Now, a few hundred years later, we enjoy the same balloon fun with festivals around the world, one of which takes off this summer in Rhode Island. July 20–22 marks the 40th annual South County Balloon Festival, hosted in Kingston, R.I. Families located in the Northeast or looking for an excuse to venture over, the annual event brings out families and travelers of all ages.
Guests enjoy live entertainment, games, rides, food and an array of family fun over the three-day event with the main event, the hot air balloon flight at the epicenter of the festival. Feeling adventurous? Take off in a Glow Balloon, flying high above the crowd at night boasting an unbeatable nightscape for flyers, while illuminating the sky like stars for festivalgoers below.
For more attractions by day, check out the Anastasini Family Circus, a local circus troop performing around the festival. Head to the entertainment stages for local bands including Roomful of Blues and enjoy live music and dancing. No summer festival would be complete without food and drinks. Check out local cuisine at the many food stalls and tents peppered around the South County Balloon Festival.
Guests pay $10 per tickets, children under 10 years old attend free and each balloon ride is $20. Enjoy the local tradition and family fun with train rides for the kids, games and entertainment for teens and adults and hot air balloon rides for the brave sightseers in the family. Flights take off nightly Friday–Sunday, 7–9 p.m. and Saturday–Sunday, 6–8 a.m. — so be sure to plan your day in advance.