The Hot Air Jubilee will be back in town from July 21-23, 2023, and we dug through the Wonder and Wander – Jackson archives to compile our best tips and tricks for attending with children. The Hot Air Jubilee is one of our favorite events in Jackson County. There is nothing quite like watching the process of a balloon inflating and taking off! Experiencing this joy through the eyes of your child is a core memory maker. We have taken Big to this festival in some form since he was three and a half, and we have learned a lot along the way. Keep reading for our top tips and tricks for attending the Hot Air Jubilee!
Hot Air Jubilee Tips
Always start at the Hot Air Jubilee Facebook Page before heading out for a launch.
The Festival Team does an amazing job of providing updates about the flights and posts all updates on the Hot Air Jubilee Facebook page. They will share all updates in real-time, such as postponements, cancellations, and my favorite words: THE LAUNCH IS A GO!
I usually have the car packed and ready, and keep my eye on the Hot Air Jubilee Facebook page. If we see that the launch is a go, we head to Ella Sharp Park asap! If we see that the launch is canceled, there are still plenty of events at the park to enjoy!
The Pilot Meet-And-Greet is a MUST!
Do not miss the Pilot Meet-and-Greet on Saturday, July 22 from 4-5 pm at the Ella Sharp Launch Field! Just what happens during this part of the festival? Pilots park their vans in a line, showcase their baskets, and sign your free autograph book (look for volunteers handing these out in the front of the line!). Additionally, Pilots hand out their special Hot Air Jubilee trading cards! This is the perfect time to ask any questions you have about ballooning. Plus, it is the perfect chance to say “Thank you” to all of the pilots who come to the festival.
Explore the Science Behind Hot Air Balloons
Why can’t the balloons fly in the middle of the day? What is the balloon envelope made out of? Why doesn’t the balloon catch on fire from the burner? What are the perfect conditions for a flight? Turn the Hot Air Jubilee into a learning experience, and spend some time with your older child learning the science behind the balloons. We found several resources by googling “Hot Air Balloon Science for Kids.” Additionally, we recommend checking out books about hot air balloons from the Jackson District Library!
Bring a wagon/stroller to cart around the extra stuff
It can be a long walk from the parking areas to the launch field, and bringing along kids means lots of stuff. A wagon or stroller can help you transport everything and can help you transport any tired kiddos back to the car when you are ready to head home. Be sure to bring along chairs and blankets to sit on, as the grass will be wet for morning launches, and you’ll want a place to sit and relax for evening launches.
Bring lots of snacks and water
Since hot air ballooning is unpredictable, this means there might also be delays and long waits. There will be many food trucks available on-site, but these won’t be open for morning launches, so it’s better to come prepared and keep the hangry away!
Be sure to visit the Kids Kingdom
The Kids Kingdom will be open both Friday and Saturday starting at 3 pm, and is offered for FREE! This area is hosted by Rivertree Church, and they run the area quite efficiently. Many of the games are toddler-friendly, and everyone wins a prize! The Kids Kingdom area can get busy at peak times, but children can often play the games more than once. This is a sure way to have some fun!
Hot air balloon burners are loud
All hot air balloons have a burner – which is basically the engine of the hot air balloon. Burners are what you see sending flames up into the balloon, and they are quite loud (even when you are behind the field ropes). If your child is sensitive to loud sounds, you might want to bring some earplugs or headphones!
Join the Chase
Did you know each balloon pilot has its own crew? The crew assists with every aspect of a flight, from inflation to standing up, to take-off. But they don’t stop there! Next, the crew then hops in the chase vehicle, tracks the balloon on the map, and helps the pilot secure a safe landing spot. Once the balloon lands, the crew jumps into action to keep it on the ground and to help with deflating and packing it away. While kids can’t join a crew for the festival, you can join the chase! Specifically, this is a way to see other parts of the balloon flight and to watch the landing process from a safe distance. (Just please be sure to keep a safe distance and not get in the way of the actual chase vehicle and crew!)
Attend Morning Launches
Want to watch a flight without a huge crowd surrounding you? We certainly recommend morning launches. The morning launch crowds are much smaller, you can park closer, and in the morning, you have the benefit of slightly cooler temperatures. Unfortunately, you won’t have all of the other festival amenities that you’ll have for evening launches, but the smaller crowds make it worth it. (Just be sure to check the Hot Air Jubilee Facebook page – morning flights may launch for other locations!)
The Hot Air Jubilee is taking place in Jackson, Michigan on July 21-23 at Ella Sharp Park. For more information on this festival, click here.
Looking for more kid-friendly fun? Check out our archives here!