What it is: Between 15 and 20 hot air balloons dot the sky during this three-day festival. The balloons lift off twice a day — at 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. — from various locations throughout Dutchess County (check Web site for complete list of sites); the most popular is the morning launch from the Hudson River Boathouse (July 5-6), which has previously drawn a crowd of 2,000 people.
What’s new: Launch locations include fun diversions, such as games for kids, barbecues, raffles, live music, and face painting. The Moon Glow launch at the Vassar Alumnae House (July 5) allows onlookers to see the balloons at sunset.
Be sure to: Get a spot at the guardrail on the Walkway Over the Hudson, which opens early to accommodate the morning launches. It’s a primo place to view the balloons as they float above the river.