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Great Smoky Mountain Hot Air Balloon Festival returns in August for fifth year

The hot air balloon festival will include live entertainment, a food truck court, balloon rides and more.

TOWNSEND, Tenn — The Great Smoky Mountains Hot Air Balloon Festival will kick off its fifth year with unique experiences for its VIPs on August 19. 

The following day, August 20, is the main event and will feature a variety of family-friendly activities at Townsend Visitor Center (7906 E. Lamar Alexander Parkway) from 4 p.m. - 9 p.m, officials said. The day will include live entertainment, crafters demonstrating and selling their artwork, a food truck court and a beer tent. 

According to a release, numerous professional balloonists will soar through the sky and offer guests a picturesque scene of colorful hot air balloons under a setting sun all while nestled in the Great Smoky Mountains during the festival.

"The Hot Air Balloon Festival is such a visually stunning backdrop of mountains and hot air balloons," said Carmen Simpher, the Little Arrow Outdoor CEO and festival organizer. "It is a mesmerizing display, and I am happy that we are having this festival in Townsend another year. I think people who come out will be very happy they did."

Gates open at 4 p.m. Admission is $5 per guest with advance parking costing $20.Parking passes are offered on the website under tickets. Day of festival parking is $24 at the gate and guests who park in private lots or are dropped off will pay a $5 admission fee, according to a release.

Tethered balloon rides are also available for pre-sale orders, which are $25 per rider. No riders under the age of 8 are permitted to ride the balloons. Depending on the weather, rides begin at 6 p.m.

The enchanted VIP August 19 event will take place in the same location from 5 p.m. - 10 p.m. That evening offers a private and intimate experience with music, food, and a tethered balloon ride. 

VIP lift-off is new and limited to only 300 participants at $200 per person. The package includes parking, tented seating for shade and balloon viewing, commemorative swag, tickets for adult beverages, choice of CJ's Tacos or B's Bites, and unlimited non-alcoholic drinks.

VIP wristbands can be used for re-entry on Saturday, August 20 for the main event. Funds raised from VIP ticket sales go to the Townsend/Cades Cove Gateway Alliance (TCGA) nonprofit, according to a release. 

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

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