Alabama Jubilee Hot Air Balloon Classic

Alabama Jubilee Hot Air Balloon Classic
The Alabama Jubilee Hot Air Balloon Classic is an annual hot air balloon festival held during the Memorial Day weekend in Decatur, Alabama. One of the oldest hot air balloon events in the mid-South, it hosts about 60 hot air balloons from Alabama and other states each year.

In the 1970s, the city of Decatur decided to purchase a hot air balloon as a mascot and a tourist attraction, but there were no pilots to fly it. So the person who sold the balloon agreed to train three pilots. A few years later, ballooning became very popular in the area, and there were several well-known pilots living in Alabama and the neighboring states. Craving friendly competition and the unique atmosphere of hot air balloon festivals, they inaugurated the Alabama Jubilee.

The first festival was held in 1978 to showcase Decatur’s new hot air balloon and to kick off the tourism season in Alabama. It featured 17 balloonists from Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Ohio. Since then, it has grown into an event that draws about 60 hot air balloon pilots from 20 states and approximately 50,000 festival-goers. The festival’s continued popularity has prompted the Alabama Legislature to declare Decatur the “Ballooning Capital of Alabama”.

The Alabama Jubilee Hot Air Balloon Classic is a free admission event held at Point Mallard Park. It is different from most other hot air balloon festivals in that it allows the festival-goers to mingle with pilots and crews while their balloons are being inflated.

The program of the Alabama Jubilee includes four major balloon activities. Each morning the balloonists participate in a competition flight called a “task” or a “race”. They include the hair & hound task and the key grab task. In the evening, there are fun flights that do not involve competition, as well as free tethered rides (on first come, first served basis), paid balloon flights, and spectacular hot air balloon glows.

Alongside balloon activities, the Alabama Jubilee features other entertainment. It includes stage performances, exhibitions, karaoke, the Southland Flywheelers Tractor Show, the Alabama Jubilee Auto Expo, and the Decatur Art Guild Arts & Crafts Show. On Sunday evening, the annual Fireworks Spectacular marks the end of the festival.

Alabama Jubilee Hot Air Balloon Classic

Photo: Nadya Krumina




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