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2016 Hot Air Balloon Festival

Published on August 23, 2016 by sbonfigli

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I always thought the balloon festival was near the Montréal city limits and cumbersome to get to. But to my surprise, I learned that it's almost a straight shot from our homes in Grand Isle to St. Jean-sur-Richelieu in Quebec.  Instead of turning toward Rouses Point, NY on US Route 2, we drove straight onto a side road in Alburg, VT that lead to a very small border crossing. We just followed this road all the way to the balloon festival. In less than one hour, including the border stop, we were there!

The festival has a carnival atmosphere with carnival food, games and rides. Plus there are several shows that are also included in the entrance price. We got to see a DJ show at 8pm followed by a new group that includes former LMFAO group members.

I did learn a few things that I'll know for next time. I'm sure many will appreciate this advice.

  1. Bring ear plugs. The music is LOUD!
  2. Bring lawn chairs. You need to provide your own seating for the shows. If you plan to stand and dance, then don't bother.
  3. Eat something before you go unless you adore carnival food.
  4. Bring bottled water. It's hot and you'll get thirsty.
  5. Know that you'll be using port-o-lets. They do have hand wash stations. But if you plan differently knowing that port-o-lets are in your future, this is your warning.
  6. When the sun sets, so can the temperatures. You might want a light jacket or sweater.
  7. Make sure you have enough storage on your camera for all the photos and videos you're going to take!
  8. If you don't have Canadian cash on hand, don't worry about it. There seem to be a multitude of ATM's in the festival area.
  9. Know that you have to pay for parking too. It was $8 Canadian in 2016.
  10. That little border crossing is not open 24 hours. We got through just fine before 11pm. My son and his crew went to that same crossing around 1am (they stayed for the entire concert and then stopped at McD's) and found it was closed. A phone call to the border crossing people and they learned that they had to drive another 20 minutes to the open crossing in Rouses Point.
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