READINGTON—You do not have to wait until December for the Force to awaken.
The QuickChek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning in Association with PNC Bank has announced that special shaped balloons of Star Wars icons Darth Vader and Yoda will take to the skies at the largest summertime hot air balloon and music festival in North America.
The three-day Festival, July 24-25-26, at Solberg Airport in Readington, NJ, features the awe-inspiring spectacle of 100 sport and special shaped hot air balloons from around the world (and a galaxy far, far away) taking to the skies over the scenic Hunterdon County countryside twice each day in mass ascensions.
Approved by Lucas film, the villainous Darth Vader hot air balloon was created in 2007 by Benoit and Michel Lambert of Brussels, Belgium to show off their artistic talents as hot air balloonists as well as their love for all things Star Wars. The balloon, a 3-dimensional replica of Darth Vader’s head, is 86 feet tall, 69 feet wide, 78 feet deep, measures 106,000 cubic feet when fully inflated, and weighs 705 pounds.
The Lamberts also created the 62-foot tall Master Yoda balloon, which is making its Festival debut and first-ever flights on the East coast.
Other new special shaped balloons include a new signature balloon from title sponsor QuickChek stores: a 121-foot-tall brightly colored seahorse; Baby Blue, a giant blue whale; Baby Dino, a hatching baby dinosaur; and the kid-friendly, 85-foot-tall smiling Piko balloon from Quebec, Canada. Returning favorites include the 5-story tall PNC American Flag balloon, the largest free-flying flag in the world; the 110-foot-tall Unique Photo Panda; and an 80-foot-tall Pepsi football.
And yes, you can go up, up and away in your beautiful balloon: 1,000 people will take a ride in a balloon at the Festival, crossing it off their bucket lists or using it to celebrate a special occasion or as a romantic way to propose!While the balloons are the stars, expect the biggest names in music, too. The Festival’s hugely popular live concert series features classic American rock band Kansas; Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and a former lead guitarist of the Eagles Don Felder; Disney teen sensation Sabrina Carpenter from the TV series “Girl Meets World;” and Grammy Award winners Tedeschi Trucks Band who roll into the Festival as part of the Wheels of Soul 2015 Summer Tour with Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings and guitarist Doyle Bramhall II.
The Festival offers 39 hours of affordable family entertainment including a nighttime balloon glow where balloons are inflated and lit up while tethered on the ground; a fireworks display; death-defying acts by female human cannonball Jennifer “The Cannon Lady” Smith; the Advil® Running with the Balloons 5K Cross-Road Challenge and Family Fun Run; children’s amusement rides; exciting interactive exhibits and hundreds of crafters and food vendors.
The Festival has been named one of the Top 100 Events in North America six times and selected as the No. 1 Thing to Do in New Jersey. Upwards of 165,000 people are expected to enjoy the magic of ballooning this summer.
Parking is available on site or patrons may take the Free Express Shuttle Bus from Raritan Valley Community College starting at 12 noon on Saturday and Sunday.
33rd annual QuickChek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning in Association with PNC Bank
The Largest Summertime Hot Air Balloon & Music Festival in North America
100 balloons, 165,000 attendees
July 24-25-26, 2015
Solberg Airport, Readington, NJ
973-882-5464 or 1-800-HOT-AIR9
Adults: $20-$35; Children ages 4-12: $8-$15; Children ages 3 and under: free
Blue Sky Club VIP: $59-$125
General admission includes lawn seating to concerts
Featured image caption: Photo courtesy of Russ Mensch of Mensch & Company, Inc., Public Relations & Event Marketing.