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Up, up, and away: Hot air balloon festival returns to the Tennessee sky

For its fourth year, the Great Smoky Mountains Hot Air Balloon Festival is back and brighter than ever.

TOWNSEND, Tenn — The Great Smoky Mountain Hot Air Balloon Festival returns for its biggest bash yet. With high expectations, Oldham Hospitality organizers said they are looking to evoke hope and happiness when it lights up the sky in August.

“After a tough year for so many, and having to cancel in 2020, we have spent months making sure this event is our best one, yet,” CEO of Oldham Hospitality Mark Oldham said.

Professional balloonists will be there to light up the mountain sunset with a bright glow and take guests for a ride in the sky. Not only will there be hot air balloon rides, but guests will also find food trucks, local vendors, face painting, rock climbing, and more at this year's event.

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“We are fortunate to be able to host this event against the backdrop of Townsend’s scenery, and appreciate everyone’s hard work in making the event possible. The Great Smoky Mountain Hot Air Balloon Festival will create unforgettable memories and experiences for attendees for years to come,” Oldham said.

More than 10,000 guests are expected to be there so organizers suggest getting tickets ahead of time.

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The entry is $5, tethered rides are $25 per rider (weather permitting) and parking is available for $25.

The festival is also offering VIP packages for $150. VIP includes parking, VIP shaded area, premium tent seating, First Flight Tethered Rides, dinner by CJ’s Tacos, Beer and non-alcoholic beverage service, exclusive restrooms, and a commemorative festival t-shirt.

The festival will be held at Townsend Visitors Center at 7906 East Lamar Alexander Parkway from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. on August 21. Balloons are set to take off from 8 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

To learn more or purchase tickets, click here.