Great Smoky Mountains Hot Air Balloon Festival

Join us this August for a summertime spectacle, when professional balloonist light up the evening sky with a beautiful balloon glow and spectacular tethered rides. The sky will be filled with a spectrum of color like never before, against a backdrop of a breathtaking Tennessee Smoky Mountain sunset, in beautiful Townsend, Tennessee!

August 19, 2023
Great Smoky Mountains Hot Air Balloon Festival Townsend 2023

Join the V.I.P. Elevated Experience

This is an elevated experience! VIP tent area for close balloon viewing Saturday August 19 4-9pm with catered meal, parking, tethered ride, adult beverages and swag. Buy V.I.P. Tickets

Hot Air Balloon VIP Experience


4pm – 9pm
August 19, 2023



Townsend Visitor Center
7906 E Lamar Alexander Parkway
Townsend, TN 37882

View on Google Maps

Buy Tickets

Watch the promotional video above

The 2022 Hot Air Balloon Festival is sponsored by:

Dogwood Cabins
Apple Valley Mountain Village
Suburban Propane
Old Forge Distillery
Company Distilling
TC Environmental
Blount Partnership
Cades Cove Cellars
TulaBlu Logo

The 6th Annual Great Smoky Mountains Hot Air Balloon Festival will feature something for everyone:

Family Friendly Activities

Live Entertainment


Crafters — Both Demonstrating and Selling Their Artwork

Food Truck

Food Truck Court


Beer Tent

Buy Your Tickets Now

Advance Parking, Tethered Rides and VIP Packages available now!

Hot Air Balloon VIP Experience

V.I.P. Lift Off! – An Elevated Festival Experience!

The VIP Experience is August 19, 2023. This package includes:

~ Friday night exclusive avoid the Saturday crowd
– Tickets limited to 300, avoid the Saturday Crowd
~ Premium Tented area
~ Tethered Balloon Ride (1 per ticket)
~ Signature cocktails by Company Distilling and Old Forge Distillery
~ Wine by Cades Cove Cellars
~ Chair Massages by Tula Blu Events
~ Commemorative swag
~ Delicious food from quality food trucks
~ Beer
– Live music

$200 per VIP ticket

What to Expect

Against the backdrop of a Smoky Mountain Sunset, the balloons begin to inflate at dusk and glow through sundown and into the nightime sky. This means balloons are usually up from about 5:00pm to 10:oopm, conditional on weather (if weather does not permit a glow the balloons will perform a candlestick glow).

The Balloons Will Not Launch Free…. This Is a Tethered Balloon Event.


Prepaid parking is $20. Pay at the gate on the day of the festival is $25. Admission into the festival is $5 each. We encourage you to pre-purchase on line as it is cash only at the gate. Tethered hot-air balloon rides sell out quickly. *VIP Friday night tickets include the parking.



Our four-legged friends are not discouraged from attending the GSM Hot Air Balloon Festival, but we understand that the Balloons can be frightening and noisy much in the same way a fireworks show creates stress for our furry pets. All pets must be leashed and poop bags are required.


Bands & Live Entertainment

To Be Announced Soon


Activities for All Ages

Our festival is a family fun event with lots of activities for all ages to keep everyone happy and having fun!


Food Truck & Concessions

Great local food trucks will be on hand to serve whatever craving you may have.

Food Vendor List Coming Soon.


Beer Tent

Relax with a cold beer while taking in the beauty of the festival.
Nothing better on a summer day.

Hot Air Balloon Fun Facts

  • A rooster, duck, and a sheep were the first hot air balloon passengers. In 1783, they were used to test the effects of flight, and flew for two miles, 1,500 feet in the air, above the French court in Versailles, over the heads of King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. They landed safely after the eight-minute flight.
  • Abraham Lincoln established the Balloon Corps to spy on the Confederates during the Civil War. The Corps was retired after realizing that the hot air balloons were an easy target for the enemy.
  • Virgin Air founder Sir Richard Branson holds the world record for the longest hot air balloon flight, flying 6,700 miles from Japan to northern Canada in January 1991. The trip also set the record for the fastest speed, at 245 miles per hour,
  • The temperature inside the balloon is kept below 248°F.
  • The balloon is referred to as the “envelope,” with a melting point of approximately 446°F.
  • In the Pixar animated movie, “Up,” it’s estimated that more than 12 million balloons would have been required to hoist Carl’s house into the air.
  • Hot air balloons cannot fly in the rain because the water would boil from the heat inside the balloon and melt the fabric.

The event will be held at the Townsend Visitor Center:

7906 E Lamar Alexander Parkway, Townsend, TN 37882

Frequently Asked Questions:

  • What time will parking be available? 4:00 pm
  • Is there handicap parking? No. Shuttles will be provided to help anyone that may need assistance.
  • Is outside food or beverage allowed? No.
  • How can you purchase tethered ride tickets? The tickets are sold online on this website. Same tethered rides may be offered on the day of the event.
  • How much is a tethered ride ticket? $25 per person
  • Can my 2 year old ride in the balloon with me? No. Ages 8+ are allowed to ride in balloons.
  • Are kids free to the festival? Yes, kids 10 and under are free to attend the festival.
  • What time do the tethered rides begin? Rides will begin around 6pm and go to 10pm.
  • How long will the rides be? Approx 3 minutes
  • How high will the balloons go? 30 feet
  • Will I get to pick the balloon I ride in? No.
  • What happens if the weather is bad? If the weather does not allow for a balloon glow the balloonists will perform a candlestick glow.
  • Are my parking passes refundable? No. This is a rain or shine event.
  • Are the tickets refundable? No, the tickets are non-refundable, except for tethered rides.
  • Are dogs allowed? Yes, all pets must be leashed and poop bags are required. Please be aware that the noise from the balloons may be scary to our four legged friends.
Dogwood Cabins
Apple Valley Mountain Village
Suburban Propane
Old Forge Distillery
Company Distilling
TC Environmental
Blount Partnership
Cades Cove Cellars
Little Arrow Outdoor Resort