I had always wanted to go to the Gatineau Hot Air Balloon Festival, so when I was offered passes for the purposes of a review I couldn’t resist! September 3rd to the 7th, 2015 marked the 28th edition of the festival and although the weather was less than cooperative for lift off, there was still a lot of fun to be had!
Some of the special shaped balloons this year included Angry Bird, Brazilian Birds, Owl, Kermit the Frog and Chicken Mom. There was also a T-Rex, Pegleg Pete, Tiki the Fish, The Pirate Parrot and the Queen Bee! Unfortunately these special hot air balloons didn’t take off every morning or evening as planned due to high winds and/or fog. Unfortunately, this also included the evening we were there to see a lift off; however thanks to the magic of social media, there are plenty of pictures and videos online of these unique hot air balloons. I encourage you to check out the Festival’s Facebook Page to see these incredible balloons for yourself!
Even without lift off, the Gatineau Hot Air Balloon Festival included plenty of activities surrounding hot air balloons, including a chance to explore the inside of a hot air balloon and meet the pilots, which was a great way for kids and adults alike to have any of their hot air balloon questions answered by pilots and crew members. We spent a lot of time inside the hot air balloon, which although was very busy, was quick-moving, fun and surprisingly very huge!
There was also a chance to climb aboard and ride a hot air balloon! For only $200 (purchased in advance) we could have had a memorable and scenic ride! We didn’t do this because we thought there would be a lot of balloons on site to see and explore, but there wasn’t. So if you really want to get a complete hot air balloon experience, I suggest looking into a ride.
Hot air balloons aside, there were a lot of things to see and do at the festival. There was a Repti-zone with snakes, scorpions, lizards and even an alligator. There was also giant table soccer, miniature hockey and bubble soccer available for anyone to participate in.
To escape the hot sun of this past Labour Day weekend, my family could often be found watching the talented musical and dance acts on the festival’s Family Stage. The famous Petites Tounes quartet performed as well as Martin Carli from Genial and Atchoum! Nearby there were also arts and crafts, face painting and princesses!
If you love concerts and music, then a weekend pass to the Gatineau Hot Air Balloon Festival is for you! Filled with unique evening performances all weekend long the Casino Lac-Leamy Stage was a popular place to be – festivalgoers place their chairs and blankets in front of the main stage early in the day to reserve a prime spot! Apparently, this year saw a record number of up-and-coming artists to the festival.
And the food! I have never been to a festival filled with so many delicious and tempting food trucks! If you arrived at the festival to witness an early-morning lift off you were also able to purchase a much-needed coffee from the Tim Horton’s truck as of 6 a.m.! In total there were more than 40 food concessions with a wide variety of food choices (there was even a SAQ booth with wine and spirits for later in the day!).
The Gatineau Hot Air Balloon Festival is a busy and fun way to end the summer. Kids will like it because of all of the activities, events and rides – including fireworks on Saturday evening! There were even amusement rides onsite (Amusement Spectacularies), which unfortunately cost extra, but were busy nonetheless. Adults will like it for the concerts, entertainment and quality food! Everyone will like it because of the main attraction – the hot air balloons!
I look forward to going to the Gatineau Hot Air Balloon Festival again next year. This time I will keep my eyes on the weather and try to choose the best day to witness a lift off.
Have you attended the Gatineau Hot Air Balloon Festival? If so, I would love to see some of your pictures!
Disclosure: I received complimentary passes to the Gatineau Hot Air Balloon Festival, however the opinions expressed in this post are my own.