Hillsborough Balloon Festival and Fair

It’s that time of year again. The time of year to see hot air balloons in a mass ascension. Hillsborough hosts one of two hot air balloon festivals in the state and it’s definitely not one to miss. The festival has grown over the years to include not only a midway with games of chance and carnival type rides but an artist fair and dozens of vendor booths. Food vendors galore will have you salivating for fried dough or sausage and peppers.

The weekend full of events kicked off Thursday evening with the carnival rides opening at 6PM. The Skip Philbrick Blues Band also took the stage Thursday as well as Ghost Dinner Band later in the evening. Many events are planned throughout the weekend including a car show, musical acts, tractor pulls, sky divers, an artisans fair at Butler Park, a parade, pancake breakfast Saturday and Sunday mornings, fireworks and of course hot air balloon launches and a night glow on Friday evening.  If you’ve never been to a hot air balloon festival and you’re asking yourself, What is a “night glow”?, well it’s when the balloon inflates with air in the evening and the burners use a white flame to light  up the envelope so it glows in the night.  It’s one of the more spectacular events at a hot air balloon festival.

The weather for this weekend should be spectacular!  With temps in the upper 70′s to low 80′s and much lower humidity than the past few days it will be refreshing.  If you plan on going to the 6AM launch you might want to bring a jacket as it’s only supposed to be in the upper 50′s to low 60′s.  You can also bring your own lawn/camp chairs or a blanket to sit on to watch the launches or the fireworks.

The festival is about an hour away from Londonderry at Grimes Field in Hillsborough on Preston Street off of 89 and 9/202.  Directions to the festival can be found here.  The best times for launches are in the AM when winds typically are the calmest. You can spend the day or spend the weekend with so many things to do you’ll never get bored.  Parking is $5.00 but entrance to the festival is free (except where noted in the schedule below).

If you’ve never been in a hot air balloon and would like to take a ride.  The cost for a ride is $200 per passenger; most balloons can carry 3-5 passengers as well as the pilot.  Cash, checks and all major credit cards are accepted. To make flight reservations, you can contact the Hillsborough Civic Organization by telephone at (603) 464-0377.  It’s an amazing experience and even better you get to see multiple hot air balloons in the air around you.  If you’re not that adventurous and would still like to be in a balloon there are tethered flights throughout the weekend for $15.00 per 5 minute flight.  The balloon is anchored to the ground so it can’t go more than 50′ off the ground.

Night Glow or Moon Glo From L to R; Last Penny, Party Time, Bewitched, Big Max, Mr. Happy in Cognito, Thunderbuster, & Amazing Grace.

Pete Langlois lives in Derry with his wife and two children. Pete works in the information technology banking sector as a systems administrator. He is an accomplished photographer and loves to shoot at air shows and balloon festivals.  He also enjoys shooting waterfalls, nature and macro photography. You can view his outstanding images on his website.

Full Schedule of events for the 2012 Hillsborough BalloonFest & Fair Schedule
Thursday, July 19
6:00 pm Carnival opens – Ride Bracelets 6-10, $15.00 – Active Military families half price with ID
6:00 pm Skip Philbrick on Stage
8:00 pm Ghost Dinner on Stage
10:00 pm Carnival closes

Friday, July 20
5:00 pm Carnival opens – Ride Bracelets 5-11, $20
5:00 pm Lawn Tractor Pulls on track
6:00 pm Balloon Lift Off (weather permitting)
6:30 pm Road Race
7:00 pm Barden Hill on Stage
8:00 pm Balloon Night Glow (weather permitting)
9:00 pm Lonesome Train on Stage
11:00 pm Carnival closes

Saturday, July 21
6:00 am Balloon Lift Off (weather permitting)
6:00 am – 8:00 am Pancake Breakfast ($5.00) under the tent
10:00 am Artisans Fair in Butler Park
10:00 am Registration for Rock Crawl begins on track
11:00 am Rock Crawl starts ($5.00 entry fee)
12:00 noon Carnival opens
1:00 pm Sky Divers on balloon field
2:00 pm Self Defense Demo on stage
3:00 pm Francestown Cloggers on stage
3:00 pm Sky Divers on balloon field
4:00 pm Monadnock Mavericks line dancers on stage
6:00 pm Balloon Lift Off (weather permitting)
7:00 pm Just Desserts on stage
7:00 pm Remote controlled balloon demonstration on balloon field
9:00 pm Second Time Around on stage
10:00 pm Fireworks

Sunday, July 22
6:00 am Balloon Lift Off (weather permitting)
6:00 am – 8:00 am Pancake Breakfast ($5.00) under the tent
12:00 noon Parade “This Land is Your Land”
1:00 pm Bradford Country Squares on stage
1:00 pm Car Show on ball field
2:00 pm Marco the Magician on the stage
6:00 pm Balloon Lift Off (weather permitting)
8:00 pm Carnival closes


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