A summertime spectacle will take place in Townsend, Tn., on Aug, 19: the inaugural Great Smoky Mountain Hot Balloon Festival.
The sky will be filled with a spectrum of color against the backdrop of a breathtaking Tennessee sunset as dozens of professional balloonists take flight.
Taking place at the Townsend Visitors Center located at 7906 E. Lamar Alexander Parkway from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m., the event features something for everyone. Families can enjoy kid-friendly activities, live entertainment, crafters demonstrating and selling their artwork, delectable food from the food truck court and local craft beer.
For those desiring a unique view of the scenic mountains, balloonists will offer safely tethered hot air balloon rides (weather depending).
The event takes place within days of another highly anticipated Blount County event: the total solar eclipse.
On Monday, Aug., a narrow path in the United States will experience the first total solar eclipse in 26 years. Only certain parts of specific states will experience this cosmic event. The eclipse is caused by the moon blocking the sun, and only the sun’s corona is visible. Blount County just happens to be one of the places to see this once-in-a-lifetime event.
Blount Partnership Tourism Director Kim Mitchell encourages visitors to spend a few days in the area to experience both events.
“Aug. 19 through 21 is a great time to visit Blount County, Tennessee as we have two new and exciting events that are a must-see,” said Ms. Mitchell. “The inaugural Great Smoky Mountain Hot Air Balloon Festival is a fun, family-friendly event with something for everyone, while the total solar eclipse is truly an event that most will only have the opportunity to experience once their lifetime.”
In anticipation of the total solar eclipse, many Blount County businesses are offering viewing events where attendees can get a good look at the eclipse through special glasses which protect eyes during the partial phases of the eclipse.
Also located in Townsend, Dancing Bear Lodge will host a Total Solar Eclipse Party for guests, visitors and members of the community. From 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m., the lodge will provide blankets, chairs and eclipse glasses to each guest and lunch will be served “food truck style.”
“It’s great to see so many Blount County businesses opening their doors for the solar eclipse,” said Ms. Mitchell. “There are nearly a dozen different solar eclipse-related events for visitors to our area to choose from, from an afternoon of tubing followed by an afternoon shindig and viewing at River Rat Tubing in Townsend to a tour to Cades Cove with a boxed lunch and viewing through the Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Center. There’s an event to fit everyone’s interests.”
Accommodations in Blount County the weekend of Aug. 19-21 are quickly filling up, so visitors are encouraged to book their lodging early.
Those looking to plan a trip to Blount County can visit www.smokymountains.org/plan-your-trip for a list of accommodations along with places to eat, things to do and what to see during the visit.
For more information on the Hot Air Balloon Festival, visit http://www.gsmballoonfest.com.
For more information to understand and prepare for the solar eclipse, visit the NASA website at https://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/eclipse.html or https://www.greatamericaneclipse.com/.