The Quick Chek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning Returns to NJ July 24-26, 2015

The balloons are returning to central NJ! For the 33rd year, the QuickChek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning is happening at Solberg Airport in Readington, NJ from Fri. July 24 to Sunday, July 26, 2015. The number of photo opportunities (especially when about 100 balloons are in the air), are always incredible. I’m personally excited to see the Darth Vader balloon return, joined this year (for the first time) by Yoda.

The weather, based on a quick look at is looking ideal for all three days of the festival, which is important because if it is too windy, the balloons are not permitted to launch. There are planned morning and afternoon balloon ascensions on Saturday, July 25, and Sunday, July 26 at 6:30am and 6:30pm. There is also a “Balloon Glow” during the Saturday evening concert that is a truly incredible spectacle.

Photo from the Saturday evening “Balloon Glow.” ©Andrew Darlow

Special Opportunity for Amateur and Professional Photographers

On Friday morning 7/24 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). 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 last year’s Media Launch 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.

Hanging out with two cameras in tow during the media launch. Two cameras makes is possible to easily get wide-angle and telephoto images quickly. Photo © Andrew Darlow

I also mentioned the Media Launch on the Meetup Group that I run (it’s called The Art of Photography, Photoshop and Lightroom). Anyone who is passionate about photography is welcome to join for no cost. I will be announcing a few workshops and other events related to photography in the upcoming weeks.

What to Do at the Festival

There are many family-friendly events at the festival, 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 all held outdoors. I was there last year for the Joan Jett concert, and she and her bandmates rocked the house!!

Music acts at the 2015 QuickChek Festival of Ballooning.

Music acts at the 2015 QuickChek Festival of Ballooning.

For a good overview of the show, here is an informative interview from CBS News with Executive Producer of the show, Howard Freeman.

Ticket Information and Discounted Tickets Available Until 11:59 pm Thurs. 7/23/2015

Ticket information can be found on this page, including links to information on how to purchase balloon ride tickets. General Admission Tickets are $10 for children (age 4-12, children 3 and under are free) and $24 for adults when ordered by 11:59pm on Thurs. 7/23/2015. After that, they are $15 and $35 respectively. Other ticket options can be found under the “Tickets” section of the website.

Any general admission tickets purchased are valid for one day only. You can also avoid a $3.50 per ticket 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).