The History of the Atlantic Balloon Fiesta

In 1985, several people in the local area were presented an opportunity to extend the local tourist season, by hosting a Hot Air Balloon Event. As local pilots knew of the great flying in the Sussex Area it was suggested that the Sussex Balloon Festival Inc. be started. Balloonists were invited to the area for a weekend, and although it was rather informal, it was to become the first annual Hot Air Balloon Festival.

The event first consisted of regular hot air balloons and the first shape balloon to attend was the House Balloon.

The Pink Elephant, The Cow, The Dragon, The Mountie, The Yellow Pages Directory, The Monster Truck, The Maple Leaf, The Canada Flag, The Hawaiian Tropics Fish, Tony the Tiger, The Cow, Green Dragon and The Purple People Eater, Tree Bird, Octopus, have all flown our skies!

The Atlantic Balloon Fiesta proved to be a success and on ground and in the air activities were added to keep people in Sussex even when the hot air balloons were not flying including children’s activities and games, skydiving demonstrations, helicopter rides, live entertainment at the bandstand, and amusement rides.

A Craft Fair was added eventually and proved to be a tremendous success! The Craft Fair features all hand made crafts and runs the entire weekend. The Craft Fair currently boasts over seventy crafters from all over Atlantic Canada. In 1990 an Antique & Classic Car Show & Shine was added to the growing list of activities during the Atlantic Balloon Fiesta weekend. This car show features antiques, street rods, bikes and trucks. It currently has over five hundred cars. The Bandstand features three days of continuous live entertainment. Lots for the whole family to do.

On the weekend after the Canadian Labour Day, this festival has been a tremendous success. It draws many people to the Sussex Area and the motels, hotels and camp parks are filled quickly. White lights all over the town and white sheets on the farmer’s fields are displayed as a welcome to the balloonists. The streets are alive with people and the skies are full of beautiful balloons. Balloonists come from all over the world to fly our inviting skies and peaceful valleys. Please join us the weekend after the Canadian Labour Day in September.

The Atlantic International Balloon Fiesta Committee, 100’s of volunteers with the support of the community at large, combined with the business community, corporate sponsors and various organizations, work year round making this event possible.

Sussex is the proud home of a hot air ballooning record. On Sept. 26, 2003, David Hempleman Adams took off from the town for the first flight across the Atlantic Ocean in an open balloon. He and his Rozière balloon safely landed in Blackpool, England, 83 hours after he left Canadian shores.

White Light Tradition

White sheets are placed upon Farmer’s Fields to welcome Balloonists. Last year, several homes and businesses in the Sussex area took this idea to the next plateau and decorated their homes and businesses with white lights. This showed that not only farmers welcome the Balloons to the Atlantic International Balloon Fiesta. This year, The Atlantic International Balloon Fiesta Committee is asking all residents and businesses in the Sussex area to dig out their white Christmas Lights and decorate! You can decorate the tree in your front yard, your house or your business windows! Just imagine how welcoming Sussex will look to Balloonists and travelers alike! The hot air balloons that come to Sussex come from all over the world, so lets all get together and show how much The Atlantic International Balloon Fiesta means to Sussex.

Landowners and Residents in Sussex and surrounding area!

Balloon pilots from around the world will be arriving in Sussex for the Annual Atlantic International Balloon Fiesta the week after Labour Day!

Flights will be launched when weather permits and balloons will be landing in the surrounding area. Launch times are approximately 6:30a.m. & 6p.m. Register at the information booth at least 1 hour prior to launch time(s).

If you would like a balloonist to land in your yard or field please mark it with a large white sheet or X in the open area. A red flag, sheet or X should be used to designate restricted landing areas.

A Toast to the Landowners – “A Balloonist’s Friend”

Ballooning is called THE CHAMPAGNE SPORT, a tradition that spans two centuries. On August 27th, 1783, Professor J.A.C. Charles launched the first hydrogen gas balloon before a crowd in Paris. Deemed a success, the unmanned 12-foot diameter sphere rose into the sky and floated out of sight.

Somewhere along its journey, it rose so high that expanding gas tore a seam in its envelope and plummeted to earth in the region of Gonesse, terrifying the peasants! The ‘demon from the clouds’ lay writhing on the ground emitting a foul odor as the remaining hydrogen sulfide gasses escaped.

Fearing for their lives, the villagers quickly summoned the parish priest to dispatch the demon. When this formula failed to work, they took matters into their own hands and attacked the monster!

Charles got word of the strange visitation at Gonesse and upon his arrival did his best to convince the villagers that the ‘monster’ was in fact a scientific machine. To allay their fears Charles brought forth champagne intended to celebrate the event.

To this day, balloonists traditionally carry a bottle of champagne and at journey’s end share a toast with the owner of the property. In this fashion ballooning became known as “THE CHAMPAGNE SPORT”.

The Atlantic International Balloon Fiesta would like to thank the landowners of Sussex and surrounding area. We know that we are privileged to have balloons fly in this area, which is dependent on your trust and cooperation. Hospitality and concern for your property are key elements in establishing a confident relationship. We look forward to seeing you again during the Atlantic International Balloon Fiesta