Frequently Asked Questions:
Are balloon rides available?
Yes, tethered rides are available if weather conditions are favorable for safely inflating hot air balloons.
Do I need a reservation for a ride in a balloon?
No, reservations are not needed, tickets for tethering go on sale after balloons are declared safe to inflate and/or tether. Plenty of tickets are generally available for everyone wishing to take a flight. The exception would be, weather conditions changing making it unsafe for a balloon to be inflated.
What does a balloon ride cost?
Tethered rides are $20 per person.
What a tethered balloon ride?
A tethered balloon is in the basket of a hot air balloon that remains attached to the ground by ropes. The balloon and basket ascend about 100 feet into the air where passengers get a breathtaking view of the festival grounds, the URI campus and surrounding South County countryside.
Where are the balloons?
If the weather is favorable, visitors will typically see inflated hot air balloons on the field early evening Friday and Saturday, Sunday, and early morning Saturday and Sunday. During the day, as long as winds aren’t too troublesome, a partially inflated hot air balloon, on its side, will be available for visitors to get up close and personal and even take a walk inside of it.
What is considered favorable weather for hot air ballooning?
A hot air balloon can only be safely inflated and tether when weather conditions are optimal (no wind). Since they are “lighter than air” crafts, and have a lot of surface area exposed, it doesn’t take much of a breeze or slight gust to make them difficult to control and unsafe. Pop up thunderstorms can be particularly worrisome. Prior to each balloon inflation the pilots conduct a weather briefing to discuss and decide whether it is safe to inflate and/or tether. Sometimes balloons are able to inflate but not safe enough to tether with passengers.
The weather forecast is calling for a beautiful day. Does that mean the balloons will be flying?
Unfortunately not, even though it may be a beautiful day, the winds may not be favorable for inflating and/or tethering a hot air balloon. No wind is optimal for inflating and tethering.
What is a flight briefing?
About a half hour prior to each inflate/tether opportunity, a pilot’s meeting is held at the balloonist’s tent, which includes a discussion with a NOAA meteorologist. Weather conditions are analyzed and discussed. Based upon this, it is determined whether it is safe to inflate and/or tether.
Why can’t hot air balloons Inflate and tether all day instead of early morning or early evening?
This time of year, and in this area, winds are typically calmest for only a few hours right after sunrise, and for a few hours before sunset. At other times, the winds are typically more pronounced, gusty and unpredictable, making it difficult and unsafe to inflate or tether a hot air balloon.
How can we know ahead of time if balloons will be Inflating and tethering? I am more than an hour away, and don’t want to drive there if they will not be inflating and tethering.
Unfortunately, it is not possible to give any advance notification. Even the balloon pilots don’t know for certain if they will be flying until after the pilot’s meeting, usually held at approximately 5:30 am, for morning flights, and around 5:30 pm, for early evening flights. Once the decision has been made to inflate, tether, delay briefing (if weather looks favorable to get better) or cancel due to bad weather a special color coded flag will be raised indicating the flight conditions. If the decision is a go, pilots will usually begin inflating their balloons immediately. There will be updates after early morning and early evening pilot briefings on Facebook.
Can I call in or check on the website to see if the balloons are going to Inflate and tether?
To get the most accurate up to minute information you must be on the field. Balloonist are not given an OK to inflate or tether in advance due to weather being unpredictable. That decision is made at the pilot’s briefing minutes before they inflate. If forecasts is unfavorable at pilot briefing but look favorable to change, a briefing can also be delayed while waiting for a change in the weather.
Where is the flag posted to let the public know the conditions?
The flag is posted at the pilot briefing tent. The announcer on the field can see the flag and is therefore, able to alert the crowd to the conditions.
What do the different colors on the flag mean?
Red — no flight at this time.
Yellow – Balloons on standby.
Green – Balloonists have permission to launch.
Blue – Balloonists have permission to tether only.
Can children fly?
Yes, if they are at least 7 years old and can see over the top of basket while standing in the basket, but check with the pilot or field personnel first. Baskets are different heights. It is dangerous for a parent to hold or lift a child while tethering. Younger children tend to get bored and could get injured should the basket land hard.
How many people can go up in a balloon?
That depends on the balloon size and the combined weight of the people riding. The pilot will determine how much weight his/her balloon will carry.
Are there any restrictions?
Yes, age (no one under 7 or over 80 as a general rule of thumb and can see over the basket while standing), some health limitations. Sometimes the landings can be hard – check with your doctor if you are unsure. You will be required to sign a certificate stating that you are safe to fly.
Are dogs allowed at the Festival?
Yes, well behaved dogs, under control and on a leash at all times, are allowed. Please pick up after them.
Where can we purchase admission tickets?
Admission tickets are purchased in advance on the website or at the Gate on the days of the Festival.
Is there a charge for parking?
No, parking is free.
Do we have to pay admission for infants and toddlers?
No, children 10 and under accompanied by an adult with paid admission are free.
Can I get a refund if the balloons don’t inflate?
Sorry, no refunds.