(UPDATE: Saturday, September 3, 2011 blog entry – Balloons didn’t launch in the evening but it looked promising for awhile. Photographed other things instead.)
September 2, 2011:It’s that time of year again and the Festival de Montgolfières de Gatineau starts today across the river in Gatineau, Quebec. As usual, weather plays an important role in the direction of the balloon launch and how many balloons actually get up into the air on any given day but certainly, for a few days at least, the skies over Gatineau and Ottawa are dotted with a larger than normal collection of hot air balloons. I try to be in a position to photograph a few of them as they pass overhead. Not always in the correct location, but fun to try.
For today’s posting, I’ve selected a basic balloon shape from the 2008 event when high winds prevented the fancier shapes from launching. Hopefully, this weekend, all of the participants will enjoy great flying conditions.
Basic details: It’s a festival atmosphere with lots of hot air balloons and carnival rides and entertainment. Cost of the non-transferable four day wrist band is $39 with single day passes ranging from $19 to $24. The main balloon launches tend to occur once or twice a day (early morning and about supper time in the evening) and are highly weather dependent. Balloon lift-offs en masse are officially scheduled for 6PM on Friday and 6:30AM and 6PM on the weekend. Fireworks on the Saturday evening are scheduled for 10:15PM weather permitting. Viewing of the balloons passing overhead is, of course, free but you have to check the wind direction to be in the right location to have them pass overhead. For 2011, about 60 balloons are should be in the air at one time.
Location: The main festival grounds parking is at 988 Rue St-Louis in Gatineau Quebec. The postal code is J8T 2S4. (Google map link)
Times: Friday 2:30Pm to closing and Saturday, Sunday and Monday it’s 6AM to closing. Closing is at 11:30PM each day.