missed the popular Upstate hot air balloon festival on the Fourth of July weekend (we
were in Latvia),
I had marked Balloons over Anderson on my calendar far in advance. Out near the
Anderson Civic Center, the festival is an opportunity to see hot air balloons
up close, take a ride in one, enjoy a magical nighttime light show, and spend
quality time with family at a free event.
are five scheduled flights throughout the weekend which are all weather
permitting, therefore check the weather and event schedule before your visit.
The festival started Friday with an evening flight and kick-off concert, but we
opted to time our trip to coincide with the second flight on Saturday. Parking
is free, and there are attendants throughout to help direct traffic. It was
just a short walk across to the grounds where a couple balloons were already
balloon we had been able to see some distance away was tethered, rising up and
down with festivalgoers who had paid a small fee per person. A second balloon
was half-inflated on the ground, allowing visitors to discover the interior of
one of these beautiful balloons. The atmosphere was of a carnival, with rides,
greasy food and booths providing additional entertainment, however we were
there to see the balloons. Having determined where the take-off would be occurring
and in which general direction the balloons would be traveling, we spread out
our picnic blanket and settled in for a wait.
time window for lift-off was two hours, and due to lack of wind it was a good
30 minutes in before we saw any action. The chase trucks with their loads drove
out onto the field, unrolling the balloons and setting up the baskets. Large
fans were used to inflate up to a certain point, at which point the burners
were switched on until the balloons were full and upright. The heat could be
felt dozens of feet away, I wonder how the flimsy looking fabric doesn’t ignite
the colorful orbs were popping up everywhere, and it wasn’t long until they
started drifting off, carrying their passengers up and away over the Anderson
countryside. We stayed until the last one was out of sight, only to be
surprised by one balloon returning to land only 100 feet from where it took off
– something I’m told is rather rare.
experience wasn’t over yet; we spent some time listening to the band, biding
our time until the glow. The balloons lined up at dusk, inflating as soon as it
was dark and illuminating the night sky. We had the opportunity to see them up
close, but the magical moment was over far too soon and the crews sprung into action
to pack up their cargo.
Anderson hot air balloon festival is free to the public, in contrast to the
Fourth of July weekend event in Simpsonville. I highly advise to bring the
family and make an afternoon/evening of it; this is a fantastic spectacle with
25 hot air balloons rising almost simultaneously into the Anderson skies, not
to mention the balloon glow at dusk. Our boys thoroughly enjoyed the experience,
feet never leaving the ground.