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The start of a new year means a zeroing-out of frequent flier qualifying miles and hotel loyalty program balances. Thus, there's no better time to plan for 12 more months of travel. To help with some inspiration, we're sharing the places and events we're most excited about for 2014.
More new months in the year means more chances to party at the buzziest events or simply witness a historical occurrence. Keep this list handy as you map out your itineraries for this year:
Melbourne Field Trip / Melbourne Travel / Australia Travel / Hot Air Balloons / City Guides / → All Tags
Yesterday we filled our belly all around Melbourne and, at the end, hinted about getting high. Today we continue to explore while avoiding any hint of the Australian Open, since there's so much more to this city than tennis.
Our alarm went off earlier than we would like to admit, all in prep for a morning filled with flying high over the city via a hot air balloon. Since the balloons are very dependent on weather patterns, the early morning is the best time to head out and enjoy fresh air from in the air.
Just one more thing for your iCal: the Great Reno Balloon Race from September 7-9, 2012.
C'monadmit it. You've totally had that fantasy where you're in a field surrounded by hot air balloons launching, or, even better, you're in a balloon, and surrounded in blue skies by countless others. Making this dream a reality isn't hard at all, since hot air balloons can be had for a price; however, witnessing a mass flight of them is far rarer.
To do this, just head on over to Reno, Nevada for the 31st annual Great Reno Balloon Race, the world's largest free hot-air ballooning event. For the estimated 150,000 race-goers and 100+ balloons, the action begins early each morning with a glow show as the balloons fire up and whoosh heated air into their billowing fabric for the beginning of the mass ascension.
Designed by Spanish entrepreneur Jose Lopez-Urdiales, the bloon is a sub-orbital device (kind of) that takes people to space (in a manner of speaking) and is scheduled to start flying in 2013 (theoretically). We're hedging on this description because the bloon isn't so much a spaceship like we've all become used to, as much as it is a really big hot air balloon.
The project webpage is reasonably slick, though the branding is kind of gratingly New Agey. There's lots of hand waving about going to "a place where borders do not really exist" and "where creation becomes real," with a promise to "help awaken consciousness of the unique, fragile beauty of our planet" so that you can become "one with your home planet." If we didn't know better we'd think it was kind of a parody, but other parts of the site seem reasonably straightforward.
When you think of hot air balloons you might think of the big shindig over in Albuquerque, but for those in the Northeast there’s a pretty good festival coming up that might just require a little road trip rather than a flight. The QuickChek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning takes place in just a couple of weeks, as it’s set to run between July 29 and July 31 at the Solberg Airport in Whitehouse Station, New Jersey.
They’ve got like at least 100 different balloons of all different shapes and sizes—including a butterfly, a shark, and the biggest can of Pepsi you’ve ever seen—that will hit the skies altogether twice per day. Besides the balloons there’s a 5K, a lady who shoots herself from a cannon, and 200 different vendors selling crafts and other goodies.
Would you spend 37 hours on a trans-Atlantic flight between New York and London? What if it was on a space-age balloon designed to gently float above the ocean at almost 12,000ft and glide through the air at a leisurely 90mph, dipping lower if there was anything interesting and then rising back into the atmosphere to continue on its path? That's the vision provided by UK design company Seymourpowell, which has invented a 265m kite-shaped airship and dubbed it the Aircruise. The ship boasts a cutting-edge ecofriendly design, is powered by solar panels and hydrogen fuel cells, and has virtually no environmentally damaging emissions. And it looks mindblowingly awesome.
The predictable downside of course, is that a trip on the Aircruise isn't going to come cheap. If it was easy to use heated gas to lift things off the ground we would do it more often. But as we all know from looking at hot air balloons, you need a lot of space to carry just a little bit of weight. In this case, you need 330,000 cubic metres of hydrogen gas to hoist just 396 total tonnes, meaning that the Aircruise won't have much leftover room for people. Since a high cost per passenger was inevitable, the designers just went ahead and transformed the entire ship into a luxury travel "hotel in the sky."
If you’ll be chilling in upstate New York this Labor Day weekend, you may want to consider a little more action than just chowing down a couple of white hots off the grill. The New York State Festival of Balloons is taking place all weekend in Dansville, and it’s only about an hour south of Rochester. There will be plenty of food, arts and crafts, entertainment, and a huge amount of hot air balloons. You can even camp right at the festival in case you get stuck with overnight balloon duty.
To celebrate their 28th year running, organizers will kick things off on September 3 with their Thursday Night Balloon Glow. Swing by the town’s municipal airport to see the balloons fire up their burners and watch them shine in the night sky. Maybe if you’re lucky you can sweet-talk a pilot into a free ride over the weekend.
Summer's winding down, but the long Labor Day weekend means there's still time for one last Summer Vacation with an Edge.
What better way to honor the workers whose blood and sweat built America's prosperity than by indulging in the fruit of their labors? This Labor Day weekend, soar above the amber-waves-of-grain and purple-mountain-majesty in a hot air balloon. For about $500 a, uh, pop, couples can hire a balloon for a private romantic ride.
Northeast city dwellers have plenty of options on the outskirts of town. Bostoners can head to High 5 Ballooning in nearby Derry, N.H., while New York City residents have multiple options in nearby New Jersey and upstate New York, including Alexandria Balloon Flights.
For the frugal traveler, group flights cost between $150 and $200 per person, meaning ballooning isn't exclusively for the uber-rich. Take that, Branson.