Ok. So you missed the highlight of the summer. But, it wasn’t your fault! Your grandmother had her 80th birthday party. Your best friend had her bachelorette party and you were the maid of honor. Or maybe you got scheduled to work. Whatever the reason, don’t worry about missing the Plainville Hot Air Balloon Festival…the next one is only 350+ days away! Until then, let me fill you in on what you missed at lift-off last weekend:

What is the Plainville Hot Air Balloon Festival? The Plainville Hot Air Balloon Festival is an annual event thrown by the Plainville Fire Company. Around 25,000 people flock from around the country to witness the 25 colorful balloons take flight. This event is one of the last, large hot air balloon festivals in the Northeast- it never disappoints.

What is the Plainville Fire Company? The Plainville Fire Company is a fire protection and rescue service group consisting of 90 firefighters. During times of crisis, this company provides extra manpower to the citizens of Plainville. When it isn’t putting out fires and providing community support, the company hosts the annual Plainville Hot Air Balloon Festival.

What is the origin of the festival? The festival is a rare treat. It began 31 years ago as an attempt by local balloonists to foster their unique hobby. It is a spectacular way to see not 1, but 25, balloons lift off.

Is there an entrance fee? I loved how accessible the festival was to the public. There is no entrance fee, so anyone could witness the magic! However, the food trucks and craft tables had items for purchase.

When did the balloons take off? The 25 balloons inflated at 6 pm on Friday and Saturday, and 6 am on Saturday and Sunday. However, I highly recommend setting your alarm for the early, early hour to witness morning lift off. It’s all part of the adventure, right?

I understand how the balloons take off…but how do they land? Driving away from the festival on Saturday morning, I witnessed the balloons floating along the horizon. I began to think….what happens when they land? Balloonists are followed by friends in cars on the road. The balloons generally land in large open fields or large parking lots.

How do I ride in a balloon? Watching the balloons sprinkled in the sky felt very ‘Wizard of Oz’. The Plainville Fire Company doesn’t arrange the balloon rides, but if you feel the urge to channel your inner Dorthy, contact the Connecticut Lighter Than Air Society.

Mark your calendars and set your alarms- the Plainville Hot Air Balloon Festival will be back before you know it! Check back next week for another Secret of SoCal.

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