Best Places For Balloon Rides

© Mylene Lorrain

Montreal, Canada

International Balloon Festival of St-Jean-Sur-Richelieu

This inflatable theme park and balloon festival is not just a destination unto itself—it's also the biggest balloon bonanza in Canada and a family favorite. The nine-day festival takes place just outside of Montreal each year, welcoming hundreds of thousands of visitors who come not only for the balloons but also for the entertainment.

"Year after year, we set up new and surprising elements to improve the experience of festivalgoers with activities and events that tweak the imagination of young and old alike," says Guillaume Poirier, the event's communications coordinator.

Concerts are a highlight (Adam Lambert drew more than 70,000 fans in 2010), as are rides, games and shows by the likes of Bimana, a Columbian group due to return by popular demand, thanks to its giant inflatable marionettes, which dance in the air above the festival. A thrill for kids is Creature, the inflatable haunted house with spooks and scares around every bounce. And, of course, there are the more than 100 balloons that take to the skies each morning and evening in a flotilla of color, as well as special shapes such as animals and cartoon characters.

Watching is fun, but riding is a must at this riverside fest. Spectators can arrange private balloon tours starting at $210 per person, which includes one-day entry into the theme park. This year's festival takes place August 13–21.

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