Are you familiar with Townsend, TN? It's our other major gate to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and it's quite a little gem of a town. While it's built up some more over the last decade, it's still a considerably more quiet little spot to take a little day trip out - either for a little bike ride across their long sidewalks across town, a swim or tube down the famous Townsend Wye river, an afternoon checking out their arts and crafts shops or another afternoon checking out the crown jewel of the Smoky Mountains with Cades Cove. Townsend occupies a lovely balance of attractions that aren't so numerous that they soak up so much of the gorgeous Smoky Mountain terrain and vibe, yet still offer a prospective visitor or family innumerate ways to enjoy the area.
There's only one thing left out of that paragraph and its "special events". Truly, compared to Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, Townsend can be rather skinny on the calendar, but for the events that do come up, they are pretty unique and well worth your attention. The upcoming 2nd Annual Great Smoky Mountains Hot Air Balloon Festival is one of them and it's exactly the kind of excellent balance between unique, cultural and exciting that Townsend is known for!
The hot air balloon festival is going on at the Townsend Visitor Center on the main street, August 18th from 3:00PM to 9:00PM. The event started last year and, being that no one around here for miles does a similar event, it was quite a hit! Professional balloon artists from whole states away came here to ascend hot air balloons above the mountains with incredible colors, Tennessee football designs, college logos, the Tennessee state flag and more that make for gorgeous photography against the sunset (in fact, there was even a photography contest - and one look at the pictures taken shows why they won). Many of those who came last year will be returning this year and the great word of mouth means we can expect a great turn-out and even more event amenities to enjoy with the fam!
According to their website, here's what there is to look forward to this year:
* Family-friendly activities
* Live entertainment
* Crafters—both demonstrating and selling their artwork
* Food truck court
* Local craft beers
* Wine Tastings
“The balloons begin to inflate at dusk and glow for around an hour. This means balloons are usually up from about 8:00pm to 9:30pm, conditional on weather (if weather does not permit a glow the balloons will do a candlestick glow). Parking for the event is $20 per car online or $25 per car day of the event. We encourage you to pre-purchase parking tickets.This year we are offering tethered rides (weather permittng) for $20 per person. The balloons will not launch. This is a balloon glow event.
Frequently Asked Questions:
* What time will parking be available? 2:30pm
* How much is parking? $20 per car if pre-purchased online, $25 per car day of event
* If I buy a parking pass will I have a parking spot? YES. You are guaranteed a spot if you pre-pay for parking.
* Is there handicap parking? No. Shuttles will be provided to help anyone that may need assistance.
* Is outside food or beverage allowed? No.
* How can you purchase tethered ride tickets? The tickets will be sold day of the event.
* How much is a tethered ride ticket? $20 per person
* Can my 2 year old ride in the balloon with me? No. Ages 8+ are allowed to ride in balloons.
* What time do the tethered rides begin? Rides will begin around 6pm and go to 8pm.
* How long will the rides be? 5-7 minutes
* How high will the balloons go? 30 feet
* Will I get to pick the balloon I ride in? No.
* What happens if the weather is bad? If the weather does not allow for a balloon glow the balloonsit will perform a candlestick glow.
* Are my parking passes refundable? No. This is a rain or shine event.”
Bands & Live Entertainment
3:00pm-4:30pm- Jeff Nelson and Friends
4:30pm-5:00pm- MoTown Cloggers
5:00pm-6:30pm- Pistol Creek Catch of the Day
6:30pm-7:00pm- Dr. Magical Balloon Show
7:00pm-8:30pm- Appalachian Surf Team
Activities for All Ages
Family fun event with lots of activities to keep everyone happy and busy.
* Dr. Magical Balloons
* Rock Wall
* Trackless Train
* Water Wars- Water Balloon
* Regional and Local Craft Vendors”
Would this be the event of a lifetime? Possibly overselling it, but would it put Townsend on the map for the month of August? Should it put Townsend on YOUR map for August? That's a very easy YES to both!