An exciting and different event happens around this time every year in the province of Quebec and we in Montreal are lucky enough to be close enough (20 minutes by car from Montreal) to it that it is not much of a drive for us. The International Balloon Festival of St-Jean-sur-Richelieu allows us to get up and close to the some of the most beautiful hot air balloons from all over North America. There will balloons and pilots from amongst other places Quebec, Ontario, New Jersey, Colorado, Florida, Pennsylvania, New York, South Carolina, and New Brunswick. There will even be some international balloons and pilots here from France, United Arab Emirates, Belgium, and Brazil. The balloons go up twice per day (depending on weather) at 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. In the evening time anywhere up to 125 balloons can go up at once filling the evening sky and later on they land and provide a type of Chinese lantern effect to light up the night. You can even ride on one of the balloons for yourself (for a fee) and let me tell you I have been up in one and there is no feeling quite like it.
If that isn't enough excitement for you the festival also has other types of events happening during the 9 days of the festival. There will be music, comedy shows and children's shows happening on one of the two stages throughout the festival. Some of the entertainers appearing include: Andrée Waters, Marie-Chantale Toupin, Garou, Ben Lee, Jonas, Rhianna, Eric Lapointe, France D'Amour, Bruno Pelletier, Star Academie, and Les Cowboys Fringants. Check the schedule on the website for dates and times of the performances. There are also different types of animation sites located at the festival that will be hosting activities throughout the 9 days. For example, there is the Dr. Pepper Teen Site (basketball, table games, and video games), Miniature Golf (for all ages), The Apprentice Farmer's Menagerie (petting zoo with over 100 animals), Craftmen's Walkway (artisans displaying their wares for sale), and Beauce Carnival's Amusement Park (rides for a low price).
On top of all that there are still more things to do at the festival. At the Terrace Sleeman's you can sit and enjoy a drink (18 and over) or is an excellent location to watch the balloons go up. There is also the Bistro SAQ where you can enjoy some wine and food. The Bistro SAQ will become a nightclub every evening. Loved children's performer Annie Brocoli will also be there on August 12 to sign autographs for the young ones.
The International Balloon Festival at Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, in its 23rd year, is the biggest balloon festival in Canada in which on average 350,000 people attend each year. That many people can't be wrong! Take some time out and come see these beautiful balloons take flight. You won't regret it!
-Rates: Passport (entrance for the 9 days): Adults: $27 pre-sale or $35 at the door, Children: 3-12: $13 pre-sale or $18 at the door, Children 0-2 are free
Single day tickets: Adults: $13, Children 3-12: $7, Children 0-2 are free, Families (2 children and 2 adults): $35
-Balloon Flights: $175 per person on a morning flight and $200 per person on an evening or weekend flight (does not include the price of admission). Can be booked by email (email@example.com) or by calling (450) 347-9555.
-Parking on-site is $5
-Opening hours: Monday through Friday: 3:30 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday: 12:00 p.m.