The Spectacular Great Smoky Mountain Hot Air Balloon Festival

One of Tennessee’s newest and most anticipated festivals is the The Great Smoky Mountain Hot Air Balloon Festival, in Townsend, TN. The festival, held in August, is in it’s second year and features a variety of food vendors, arts and crafts vendors, and of course hot air balloons!

The Great Smoky Mountains Hot Air Balloon Festival

Location and Cost

The festival is held at the Townsend Visitors Center. Admission to the festival is completely FREE, but you will need to purchase a $20 – $25 parking pass per vehicle.

Smoky Mountain Balloon Festival Townsend Tennessee, Mom Explores the Smokies

What to Expect

The main event, the balloon glow, does not happen until after dark. Until then, you can enjoy the live music, arts and crafts vendors, and food trucks. There will be over 15 food and beverage trucks including a wide variety of American favorites, BBQ, and desserts. There will also be a craft beer tent and wine tasting event. To fully enjoy the festival, you will want to bring a blanket or camp chairs to sit on. 

What About Kids?

In addition to the wonderful offerings above, the festival also features a variety of kid friendly activities including face painting, train ride, water balloon fights, balloon animals and more!

Smoky Mountain Balloon Festival Townsend Tennessee, Mom Explores the Smokies

Balloon Glow

This 2018 event will feature 10 fantastic hot air balloons lighting up the night. The balloon glow will begin at dusk, which is approximately 8:00 pm. It will last until approximately 9:30.


Leashed pets are welcome with owner supplied waste bags. The festival cautions that dogs may react poorly to the hot air balloons, similar to the way they react to fireworks. So, use your best discretion.

Special Note

This event does NOT feature un-tethered balloons. The draw of the festival is the glow of the balloons against the night sky. Although all of the balloons will be raised off the ground, they will be tethered and not free-flying. If you want to see un-tethered balloons, you may prefer the Monroe Life Balloon Fiesta, which is another annual hot air balloon festival in East Tennessee.

Our Family Review

Despite the fact that the balloons do not launch, we loved this little festival! Everyone in my family truly enjoyed seeing the balloons light up. My 2 year old in particular was in awe. We went in 2017 for the first year of the festival. This was also the same weekend as the eclipse, which brought in an unusual amount of visitors and made it a little chaotic, but we still had fun.

There were a ton of food trucks there, so we just picked the one with the shortest line and our food was delicious. Of course, I always love meandering through the craft vendors, so that was a big win for mom! It was also peaceful just to sit and enjoy the mountain view, prior to the balloon glow. The views here never get old!

Based on their website, everything is going to be bigger and better this year, which is what usually tends to happen in any festival’s second year. This year the Great Smoky Mountain Balloon Festival is featuring more balloons, more vendors, and a great kids section. So, check it out!

Smoky Mountain Balloon Festival Townsend Tennessee, Mom Explores the Smokies
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Written By
Erica Cardinal
Erica is a long-time resident of East TN and the founder of East TN Family Fun. She's also a sucker for a good adventure. Together with her hubs and kiddos, she spends her time exploring, homeschooling, and making memories.

2 thoughts on “The Spectacular Great Smoky Mountain Hot Air Balloon Festival”

  1. This was a ridiculously bad time for the whole family. 30$ per person just to get in, then 25$ per person to go about fifteen feet up in a hot air balloon (didn’t even clear the treeline, not even a halfway decent view) then, ofc, the food is 15 to 20$ per person for concession stand nacho chips and cheese type food. The whole thing was nothing but a money grab from whatever greedy persons set this up. Nothing about it was fun or enjoyable

    • Thanks for your review, but of course, I’m sorry to hear you had a bad time. Although it was crowded, I enjoyed it when I went with my family in the past and I know many other people enjoy it as well.


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