The Great Smoky Mountains Hot Air Balloon Festival returns for a 5th year

The Great Smoky Mountains Hot Air Balloon Festival will enter its fifth year on August 19, with unique experiences for its VIPs. The following day, August 20, is the main event and will feature a variety of family activities.

During the festival, many professional balloonists will take to the skies and provide attendees with a picturesque scene of colorful hot air balloons under a setting sun while nestled in the Smoky Mountains.

The August 20 main event will take place at the Townsend Visitor Center 7906 E. Lamar Alexander Parkway from 4-9 p.m. The day will include live entertainment, artisans demonstrating and selling their artwork, as well as a food truck lot and beer tent.

Speaking about the event, Little Arrow Outdoor CEO and festival organizer Carmen Simpher expressed her excitement for the event’s fifth year.

“The Hot Air Balloon Festival is such a breathtaking backdrop of mountains and hot air balloons. It’s a fascinating exhibit, and I’m glad we’re bringing this festival to Townsend for another year. I think people who come out will be very happy that they did,” Ms Simpher said.

Doors open at 4 p.m. Admission is $5 per person and advance parking is $20. Parking passes are available on the website ( under tickets. Festival day parking is $25 at the gate and guests parking in private lots or being dropped off will pay a $5 admission fee.

Captive hot air balloon rides are now also available for pre-sale orders. Tickets are $25 per rider. No rider under the age of 8 is allowed to ride on the balloons. Weather permitting, walks will start at 6 p.m.

Additionally, the Enchanted VIP event on August 19 will take place at the same location from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. This evening offers a private and intimate experience with music, food and a tethered balloon ride. Funds raised from VIP ticket sales are donated to the non-profit Townsend/Cades Cove Gateway Alliance (TCGA).

The VIP takeoff is new this year and is limited to just 300 attendees at $200 per person. Package* includes parking, tent seating for shade and hot air balloon viewing, commemorative loot, attendee’s choice of CJ’s Tacos or B’s Bites, tickets to adult beverages and non-alcoholic beverages at will.

The package also gives VIPs the chance to chat with the balloonists, enjoy a peaceful hot air balloon flight, and endless photo opportunities. The VIP wristband can be used for the comeback on Saturday August 20 for the main event.

For more information on the Great Smoky Mountains Hot Air Balloon Festival, visit

*Parking on the second day and additional not included in the VIP package