Countdown to festival fun:
READINGTON, NJ — Colorful balloons filling the sky. Concerts. Amusement rides. Fireworks. Food. All in one place, all close to home.   For families looking to stay close to home this summer, the 39th annual New Jersey Lottery Festival of Ballooning, the largest summertime hot air balloon and music festival in North America, offers plenty to see and do in a safe outdoor environment.   This year’s Festival launches July 29-30-31, 2022 at Hunterdon County’s Solberg Airport in Readington, NJ.   Featuring the awe-inspiring spectacle of teardrop shape and special shaped hot air balloons taking flight twice each day and a popular live concert series, the Festival has been named the premiere family entertainment attraction in New Jersey by the USA TODAY Network and the No. 1 Thing to Do in New Jersey by New Jersey Monthly magazine.   The hot air balloon inflations and ascensions take place in the early morning and early evening. Filling the sky with brilliant color and whimsical shapes, this “magic of ballooning” creates memories to last a lifetime.   Exciting new special shaped balloons this year include a tiger, a rocket ship, a flying saucer, Billy the Kid, and fun characters.   The New Jersey Lottery’s 135-foot-tall bright yellow balloon in the shape of the sun is the festival’s signature balloon. Other returning favorites include the Unique Photo Panda bear, a colorful unicorn, and the Pepsi football.   The Festival offers hours of affordable family entertainment including a live concert series; a fireworks display; a nighttime balloon glow where the balloons are inflated and lit up like giant lanterns; children’s amusement rides and age-appropriate entertainment; human cannonball David “The Bullet” Smith Jr.; the Running with the Balloons 5K race; exciting experiential attractions, crafters, vendors, comfort food and more.   Headlining concerts include best-selling children’s recording artists Laurie Berkner, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Todd Rundgren, Kansas, and Collective Soul. Lawn seating for the concerts is included in general admission tickets. The Festival also offers VIP reserved concert seating and other VIP amenities.   New Jersey Lottery’s “Lottery Land” proved to be an exciting new entertainment feature last year  and the spacious entertainment complex will once again be a Festival destination in 2022. Lottery Land provides breathtaking views of the hot air balloon ascensions and the Festival grounds while offering fun, a place to relax, and its CASH POP Summer Stage will feature top-flight cover bands on a new second concert stage.   “We’re excited that people want to be enjoying themselves and spend time outdoors with their families and friends,” said Festival Executive Producer Howard Freeman. “We have something for people of all ages. We’re proud of all the great fun things we have to offer and of the value we provide year after year.”    The event’s impact is long-lasting, too. The Festival has raised more than $3.2 million to date to benefit local charities, non-profit organizations and children’s specialized hospitals. Advance tickets offering great savings and a daily schedule of activities are available now at www.balloonfestival.com.