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Carolina BalloonFest: The Southeast's Largest Ballooning Spectacular

Statesville is a great vacation destination tucked away in the fertile rolling landscape of Heartland North Carolina. You’ll find an abundance of fun activities here for all ages, and it's only 40 miles north of Charlotte, on I-77N.   


This is an ideal location for golf thanks to the area's natural beauty and moderate year-round temperatures. River Oaks Golf Club is a championship level course located 10 miles west of Statesville. They have a full 18-hole course measuring 6,574 yards that will offer a challenge to all skill levels. Get some practice swings in on the driving range and roll a few puts on the practice greens before teeing off, and grab anything you forgot from the full service pro shop. Larkin Golf Club is another great championship level course. This semi-private course plays at 7,005 yards from the tips, and 5,300 yards from the forward tee boxes, perfect for youngsters just learning the game. The course is visually stunning and offers you a variety of unique natural features to enjoy during your round including rolling grassland, mountain, and beach. You’ll also be able to utilize Larkin’s practice facilities, pro-shop, and beautiful clubhouse.


Statesville is home to a variety of attractions. The Fort Dobbs State Historic Site is must for any history buff. The fort was built and manned by the British during the Seven Years War (1754-1763). At the site you’ll find classes, events, and reenactments that offer an accurate snapshot of what life was like during this time period. Daveste Vineyards is ideal for wine and craft beer lovers and it's located only seven miles south of the city. This was the first vineyard in Iredell County, where they have been growing grapes since 2005. The wines produced here are all small batch with production limited to 1,500 cases per year. Visitors have the opportunity to participate in tasting and tours daily during regular business hours.


Events and festivals in Statesville are great for all ages, offering a variety of memorable experiences. The Carolina BalloonFest is a popular regional celebration returning for an impressive 43rd year. This festival is a showcase and celebration of ballooning, and is a cornerstone of the North Carolina event circuit attracting thousands of people each year. There will be over 50 balloons with full crews on hand, launching twice daily during each day of the event. In addition to being a ballooning spectacular, there will be entertainment for all ages, plenty of food options, and ample activities for kids. got the chance to interview J. Harriman, Marketing Director for the event, to talk about this great ballooning experience.


RAL: How long has the event been running?

JH: 2016 is our 43rd annual hot air balloon festival.


RAL: How many annual participants do you draw and who are they demographically?

JH: Carolina BalloonFest welcomes approximately 25,000 guests over the course of our three day event. Most are adults between the ages of 28 and 60. We also attract many families with young children.


RAL: Take me through the activities of a day at the event.

JH: Our event offers scheduled activities between two daily flight events.

  • Live entertainment on two stages

  • Kids zone play area

  • Tethered balloon rides

  • 2 Morning hot air balloon competitions

  • 3 Afternoon ascensions

  • Kids Art Rally under the Artist Tent

  • North Carolina Wine & Craft Beer Garden

  • Balloon Learning Center

  • Pilots meet-and-greet

  • Artisan village and marketplace


RAL: Will there be any guest appearances?

JH: Our special shapes and over 50 beautiful hot air balloons are our headliners!


RAL: What dining options will there be?

JH: A great selection of fetival foods are offered by over a dozen vendors. With such a large selction, we tempt various appetites.


RAL: What is the overall environment like?

JH: Carolina BalloonFest is a family-friendly event held near the regional airport in the countryside of greater Statesville. The area is scenic with plently of free on-site parking for advance ticket holders near our intimate venue. Park & Ride options are available on Saturday & Sunday with a free shuttle tot he festival.


RAL: What can an attendee expect to find for local lodging?

JH: Greater Statesville area lodging includes hotels and local B&B’s which can be found at


RAL: Does this drive business to your local economy?

JH: Absolutely! Carolina BalloonFest is the annual signature event in Statesville, Iredell County, NC. Local loding, restaurants, fueling centers, and Statesville attractions experience a positive economic impact during the 3rd weekend each October.


RAL: Does the event support a special cause in the community?

JH: National Balloon Rally Charities, Inc. organizes Carolina BalloonFest. A percentage of proceeds is donated to local nonprofits. In 2015 Carolina BalloonFest donated $113,000 to more than a dozen nonprofit organizations.


RAL: Why should people come to your event?

JH: With only a handful of hot air balloon festivals in the Southeastern United States, Carolina BallonFest is renowned in the national ballooning community for its rich aviation history rooted in Iredell County. There is a speical magic that happens when our guests can watch how pilots inflate over 50 colorful gentle giants and launch them to sail into the winds of our Carolina autumn skies. We host a family-friendly festival in an intimate country venue and encourage guests to bring lawn chairs, blankets, and cameras so they can relax and the the full experience with friends and family. It takes a village to host a beautiful festival and the hospitality of our local volunteers and sponsors bring many guests back to us each fall!

For more information about the Carolina BalloonFest, please visit their website.

Photograhpy Credit: The Destination Magazine