The QuickChek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning Returns to NJ July 28-30, 2017

It’s that time of year again in Central New Jersey! For the 35th year, the QuickChek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning is returning to Solberg Airport in Readington, NJ from Fri. July 28 to Sunday, July 30, 2017. There are always many photo opportunities at the show (especially when scores of balloons are in the air). And there are always a lot of interesting balloons to see. This year, they include the Angry Bird balloon, Simba the Lion (built to help build awareness and help stop the poaching of lions), and many more.

So when should you go? An evening ascension is planned for Friday afternoon (7/28) at 6:30pm, and morning and afternoon balloon ascensions are planned on Saturday, July 29 and Sunday, July 30 at 6:30am and 6:30pm. There is also a “Balloon Glow” during the Saturday evening concert that is usually an amazing sight to see. I would recommend taking a look at the weather forecast a day before the event to help you decide when might be best for you to attend.

From a morning ascension at the QuickChek NJ Festival of Ballooning. Photo © Andrew Darlow

What to Do at the Festival

There are many family-friendly events at the festival (including rides for kids), and there are MANY food options, including a multitude of food trucks and a “pop-up” QuickChek store. The bands that they have lined up look fantastic, and there are quite a few musical acts that play both day and at night (see the schedule for exact dates and times). You can either purchase reserved seats if you want to get close to the stage, or you can just enjoy the show from a lawn chair or blanket outside the main show area with your ticket to the festival since all of the concerts are held outdoors. I was there a few years ago for the Joan Jett concert, and she and her bandmates rocked the house!!

This year, for the first time, they are having a Friday Kids Concert with Laurie Berkner at 1:30pm. I know Laurie and her band’s music well because our son Tyler has enjoyed it for many years. They are also having a “Camp Package,” for the first time with special discounts for camp groups.

Special Opportunity for Amateur and Professional Photographers

On Friday morning 7/28 at 6:30am the festival organizers allow members of the press as well as amateur and professional photographers/videographers to attend a “Pre-Festival Media Launch” for no charge (parking is also free). To attend the festival after the media launch, you must then have a ticket and pay for parking in a separate area. I plan to attend once again on Friday morning to take photos with many other pro and amateur photographers and videographers. Experiencing the sun rising with the balloons all gathered in one place is truly breathtaking. Below is a self-portrait from a few years ago, taken with a GoPro camera. I’m sporting one of my favorite ways to carry my gear–using The Wedding Photographer’s Vest from Another favorite accessory (the Peak Design Capture PRO Camera Clip), allows my camera to hang securely from my chest. For more information, including parking instructions, see the bottom portion of this page on the festival’s website.

Ticket Information and Discounted Tickets

Regardless of which day you attend, there is a special discount available when you purchase tickets by end of day Wed. 7/26. Kids 3 years and under are free, and tickets for children 4-12 are about 50% less than the adult tickets.

Any general admission tickets purchased are valid for one day only. You can also avoid an online ordering fee by purchasing tickets at a QuickCheck store (here is a link to a page where you can search for a QuickChek location).

Join Our Meetup Group

I also posted a Meetup event for the Friday Media Launch over on this Meetup Group. You are welcome to join, and there’s no membership fee. I post events, workshops, etc. there from time to time (both local to the NY/NJ area as well as virtual events).