Up Up and Away Florida Hot Air Balloon and Music Festival returns to Lakeland

The Up Up and Away Florida Hot Air Balloon and Music Festival returns for the second year this weekend. The three-day event will be held at the Sun ‘N Fun campus in Lakeland.

“Their Sun ‘N Fun facility is just perfect for hosting a hot air balloon festival,” said executive director Ron Clukey.

Clukey launched Up Up and Away Florida, a non-profit organization, in 2019. The first festival was held in February 2020 with an attendance of nearly 25,000 people.

The festival was canceled in 2021 due to the pandemic, but Clukey expects over 35,000 people.

More people mean more entertainment.

“We bring more entertainment throughout the day because the hot air balloons only fly in the early morning and then late afternoon,” Clukey said.

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The festival has expanded its entertainment for attendees. There will be hot air balloon rides, helicopter rides, a car show, live music and a kids’ zone.

“In addition to the groups we had the first year, we have now brought 10 different groups. We brought in a mini space adventure circus, where they walk on stilts, have clowns and bubble machines. They have a motorcycle death cage as well as aerial stunts,” Clukey said.

The festival begins at 3 p.m. Friday with the final show, the Balloon Night Glow Show, at 8:15 p.m. Events begin at 7 a.m. Saturday and Sunday with the Balloon Night Glow Show at 8:15 p.m.

Daily tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door. Children 6 and under admitted free. A four-ticket family package costs $60. Discounts are available for those with valid ID who are active duty and retired US military, senior citizens and first responders. Captive hot air balloon rides are $20 cash only, and hot air balloon rides with a pilot are $250 cash only. For more information or to book a hot air balloon ride, visit www.upupandawayflorida.com.

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