Gatineau Hot Air Balloon Festival

Gatineau Hot Air Balloon Festival
The Gatineau Hot Air Balloon Festival (Festival de montgolfières de Gatineau) is an annual hot air balloon event held in the Canadian city of Gatineau, Quebec. The festival takes place during the Labor Day weekend, attracting around 200,000 festival-goers.

The first Gatineau Hot Air Balloon Festival was organized in 1988 by Jean Boileau, a hot air balloon pilot who served as the festival’s general director from its inception to 2001. The inaugural festival featured 47 balloons, including one from France, and drew 34,000 attendees. Sadly, it was a one-day event because the weather did not cooperate.

In 1989, the festival lasted for four days and attracted 65 balloons and 90,000 attendees. Alongside balloon launches, it featured performances by Pierre Flynn and Celine Dion. The Gatineau Hot Air Balloon Festival has been growing ever since. Today, it is one of the largest events of its kind in Canada that offers over 60 hours’ worth of programming.

Balloon-related events and activities at the festival include morning and evening lift-offs, spectacular Night Glows, meetings with pilots who share the secrets of ballooning and answer questions, exploring hot air balloons from the inside, and hot air balloon rides. The Gatineau Hot Air Balloon Festival features balloons of every shape and color, including special shape balloons, from around the world. Over the years, it has welcomed balloons and their pilots from Canada, the United States, France, Switzerland, the UK, Spain, China, and other countries.

But the festival isn’t all about ballooning. Its program also includes shows and family entertainment for attendees of all ages. There are several stages that host live music and other performances, sporting events, fireworks displays, buskers, fairground rides, a children’s area, an arts and crafts tent, a classic car exhibition, a special mass at the St-François-de-Sales heritage church, an annual graffiti contest, and more.

Since 2007, a special committee has presented the Jean Boileau Award to recognize the work and involvement of a member of the organizing committee, volunteer or a hot air balloon pilot.

Gatineau Hot Air Balloon Festival

Photo: proacguy1




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