Hot Air Balloons

37th edition

From August 29th to September 2nd 2024

Look up and enjoy the view of a sky lit up with a thousand colours!

No, it is not a rainbow, just dozens of dazzling hot air balloons lighting up the sky over Gatineau’s Parc de la Baie! Take-offs are subject to weather conditions.

When? Around 6:30 am and 6:30 pm

Where? at Parc de la Baie

In the event of adverse conditions prohibiting liftoff from the Parc de la Baie in the morning, alternative sites have been set up in Gatineau! There are 3 of them: École polyvalente de l’Érablière, Gatineau-Ottawa Executive Airport and Lord Aylmer Elementary School/parc Champagne.

It should be noted that flights are subject to weather conditions, flight directors’ authorisation and the pilot’s decision.

Under which conditions can hot air balloons fly?

The hot air balloon is very capricious and requires very specific weather conditions to be able to take off, or even simply to deploy while remaining on the ground.

For a hot air balloon to take off, you need wind speed of more than 3 km/h and less than 14 km/h, and wind direction must allow for a safe landing. There can be no rain, fog or storm within a 50 km radius from the lift-off area or along the flight trajectory.

That’s why, sometimes, hot air balloons can’t fly even if the weather is nice outside.

To be able to inflate a hot air balloon and keep it on the ground, for captive flights or Night Glow, the same conditions must be respected, except for the wind speed which must be lower than 8 km/h.

Reading the flags

After checking the weather, the Flight Directors will authorize or prohibit the hot air balloon flights. Pilots interpret the flags flying at the take-off area as follows:

The green flag means that all pilots have the go-ahead for hot air inflation. This does not mean that they can lift-off. The pilots have to get permission from the flight officers before lifting off.

The blue flag authorizes pilots to do tethered flights only.

The yellow flag means only cold air inflation is permitted. However, some balloons might be allowed to start hot air inflation.

The red flag means that the balloons cannot be inflated. This overrides any prior authorization.

Book a hot air balloon ride

You have a question? Contact us!

Marc-Antoine Prévost
Phone : 819 243-2331 poste 1-8-3
Email :


$395 plus taxes per person (non-refundable)

This basic package allows you to postpone your flight in case of bad weather conditions or if the pilot cancels the flight, for example. This package also allows you to transfer the flight to another person of your choice. This basic package does not allow for a refund, but you can easily purchase this option when you book.

$30 plus tax per person. By selecting this refund option at the time of booking, you will be able to request a refund on your basic package.


There is no age limit for a hot air balloon ride, but you have to be in good health!

However, for safety reasons, passengers must be tall enough to see over the edge of the basket. The rule of thumb is at least 12 years of age and two feet tall. In addition, for safety reasons, it is strongly recommended that a passenger be physically autonomous and able to stand for a minimum of 90 minutes. We recommend that anyone with serious medical issues, who has had an operation or who is receiving treatment obtain a medical opinion and all-clear before booking a ride. Pregnant women are not permitted to ride in a hot air balloon. The flights depend on the weather conditions and your physical condition. The pilot has the right and responsibility to refuse boarding of any person who has consumed alcohol or other substances prior to the flight and/or any passenger who is not been deemed fit to participate in a ballooning activity.

Your camera of course, but it must be fastened to your neck or your wrist. For safety reasons, backpacks, handbags and any loose items are not permitted in the basket. Leave them in your car or, if you prefer, in the chase car, where they will be waiting for you after the ride.

Useful Information

When you book a balloon flight, you will be able to plan the date and time on the online calendar of our computer system. Your flight is then registered in our system and we will confirm with you the evening before around 9 p.m. for a morning flight, or that same afternoon around 3 p.m. for an evening flight. However, it is entirely up to the pilot to decide whether the conditions are right. A flight may be postponed at any time if there are any safety concerns.

The pilot chooses the departure location according to the wind direction. He will then inform the passengers of the place and time of the meeting with the team responsible for the flight.  Usually, the meeting place is in the parking lot behind the La Cité Rapibus station (459 boulevard de la Cité), where our vehicles and trailers are parked. From there, the crew will be in charge of you until your return.

When you arrive at Parc La Baie, you must go to the passenger reception desk. You will check in and be given your boarding pass. A waiting area will be available for you until your pilot or a member of his team picks you up, or one of our passenger attendants takes you directly to your pilot. As soon as you meet your pilot, he will take charge of you until you return to the site.

After your flight, a chase team traveling in a van will take you back to the departure point. This team follows the balloon during its flight (roads permitting) and should ideally be on site to collect the balloon on landing. Every hot air balloon in the air requires a ground crew of three or four people who are in constant radio contact with it to ensure a successful flight.

A ride can last anywhere from 20 to 90 minutes, depending on wind direction and speed. The entire experience can take three to four hours, factoring in the time it takes to get the balloon ready.

If your flight is canceled due to weather conditions, or by a decision of the flight directors or your pilot, you have two options. Firstly, your flight can be rescheduled to another Festival flight or to a non-event flight, depending on availability. The second option, if you selected the refund option when you booked your flight, you can request a refund; this will be made within one month of the Festival.

The history of hot air balloons

Invented in 1783, the hot air balloon has gained in popularity after being forgotten for several decades. The invention is attributed to Montgolfier brothers Joseph and Étienne. After several initial attempts, the brothers felt ready to organize a first public display on June 4, 1783, in Annonay, in Ardèche, France before a hundred curious onlookers. Their 11 meter diameter spherical balloon was made of silk and paper, and was inflated over a straw and wool fire. It rose 180 meters, and traveled two kilometers in 10 minutes, descending slowly before landing.

On September 19, 1783, in front of Versailles, before King Louis XVI and a huge crowd, the Montgolfier brothers presented their latest model. The balloon, measuring 12.5 meters in diameter and 17 meters in height, was made of cotton and paper, and was elegantly painted and decorated. A cage suspended beneath the balloon contained a rooster, a duck and a sheep, history’s very first aeronauts. The balloon rose to 500 meters, and traveled 3 kilometers in 8 minutes. The animals were unharmed.

On November 21, 1783, Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier and the marquis d’Arlandes, François Laurent, were the first humans to fly in a balloon. The craft was 2,040 cubic meters, 21 meters long and 14 meters wide, and weighed 725 kilograms, with its passengers. The envelope was made of cotton treated with alum to make it impermeable and less combustible. It was decorated with the royal insignia and the signs of the Zodiac. It rose majestically before a huge crowd (estimated at more than 500,000 people, almost half the population of Paris at the time). It reached 900 meters, and landed intact after 25 minutes 8 kilometers from its starting point.

Professor Jacques Charles and brothers Robert, Anne-Jean and Nicolas-Louis, engineers and pilots, also made a significant contribution to the evolution of hot air balloons by introducing the hydrogen gas balloon at that same time, which made longer flights possible over a greater distance. The first flight of a hydrogen balloon was on August 27, 1783.

In the 1950s, American Ed Yost revived the hot air balloon by experimenting with new methods, combining plastics and a heating system that used industrial type propane tanks. But it wasn’t until 1970 that hot air balloons really caught on thanks to a small group of people. Entrepreneurs then started making hot air balloons for fans of the new sport. Since then, it has turned into a very sophisticated sport. Competitions at the local, regional, national and international levels take place every year in more than 40 countries.

This text contained extracts from the book by Marco Majrani, Les vaisseaux du ciel. Aérostats, vifs comme le vent, plus légers que l’air (1997, 175 p.), available through Ville de Gatineau.​

The flights in pictures!

Board a hot air balloon