Festival of Ballooning: General Registration with Behind the Scenes Pass

Class Code:
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Join Michael Downey at the NJ Lottery Festival of Ballooning, the most photographed event on the East Coast! You'll learn how to photograph hot air balloons as they're inflating, launching, and flying up in the air. You'll then be behind the scenes at the festival and free to roam the balloon launch area. Don't miss out on breathtaking visuals of balloons from around the world!

• (1) Seminar at Fairfield: Wed, July 26th (6:30pm - 8pm)
**If you're not attending the seminar, email [email protected] to arrange another time to pick up your credentials.
• (1) Balloon Festival General Admission Ticket
**Admission to the festival on the day of your chosen launch.
• (1) "Behind the Scenes" field pass for ONE launch
**Friday (6:30pm)  |  Saturday (6:30am)  |  Sunday (6:30am)
**For Friday, you can arrive at the festival as early as 1pm.
**For Saturday and Sunday, arrive at the festival by 5:45am.
*Parking is NOT included and costs $10 per vehicle.
Our Price: $119.00

Available Dates

SEMINAR:  Wednesday, July 26th (6:30pm - 8pm) @ Unique Photo (Fairfield)
Learn how to photograph hot air balloons as they're setting up for launch! Head Instructor Michael Downey will briefly go over photography basics and offer insight on shots to look for during the festival. He'll also cover gear recommendations, logistics on where to meet, and what to expect before and during the course of the launch.

If you've already joined us for our Balloon Festival workshop in previous years, you DO NOT need to attend this seminar again.

If you won't be attending the seminar for any reason, please send us an email at [email protected] to arrange a date/time to pick up your credentials at our Fairfield location. Credentials MUST be picked up before your chosen Balloon Festival date (during open store hours) or else you won't be able to get into the festival.
Choose One: Friday, July 28th *OR* Saturday, July 29th *OR* Sunday, July 30th
The New Jersey Festival of Ballooning (Solberg Airport - 30 Thor Solberg Road, Whitehouse Station, NJ 08889) is the largest summertime hot air balloon and music festival in North America and is the premiere family entertainment attraction in NJ. It holds the dual distinction of being a recipient of The New Jersey Governor's Award for Best Special Event, as well as being designated, for the 6th time, as a Top 100 Festival in North America by the American Bus Association. Held annually at Solberg Airport, the festival truly has something for everyone! From twice daily mass ascensions of up to 100 special shape and sport hot air balloons, to headlining concerts, non-stop family entertainment, hundreds of crafters and vendors, great food, fireworks, a balloon glow, and more, the festival is jam-packed with stuff to do.

On your chosen day, meet up with Michael and the other attendees at the Balloon Launch area at the times listed below. Once the field opens, your "Behind the Scenes" pass will allow you to go behind the roped area that's inaccessible to the general public. You'll be free to move around and photograph the different balloons as they're inflating and setting up for the mass ascension. Of course, please be mindful of your surroundings so that the balloons can launch safely. After all of the balloons have taken off, you're welcome to head home or enjoy the rest of the festivities!

• For those attending the festival on Friday, you will receive "Behind the Scenes" access to photograph the Friday evening launch (6:30pm). You may arrive at the festival as early as 1:00pm. Please plan to arrive at the launch area by 5:30pm at the latest. Traffic to the festival will increase greatly as it gets closer to the launch time.

• For those attending the festival on Saturday, you will receive "Behind the Scenes" access to photograph the Saturday morning launch (6:30am). Please plan to arrive at the launch area by 5:45am.

• For those attending the festival on Sunday, you will receive "Behind the Scenes" access to photograph the Sunday morning launch (6:30am). Please plan to arrive at the launch area by 5:45am.

Unique University® is the highly acclaimed education component of Unique Photo®, NJ’s only camera and video superstore. There is over 2000 sq. ft. of learning space, including our state-of-the art, 1000 sq. ft. main presentation hall. Unique University’s mission is to help our visitors “Create Better Pictures” by providing photography education for beginners to pros. With events daily, it is the place where photography groups such as local camera clubs, ASMP, PPA and others meet. We have a full curriculum of classes and seminars from world famous speakers such as Art Wolfe, Rick Sammon, Michael Yamashita, Tyler Stableford, Lindsay Adler, and Will Crockett. We offer photography experiences to such places as the Lakota Wolf Preserve, Wolf Conservation Center, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Rutgers Football, Longwood Gardens, Festival of Ballooning, and much more. Our technical classes include such topics as basic digital photography, lighting techniques, Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom, macro photography, composition, editing and printing, wedding photography, HDR photography, working with speedlights, how to use social media, digital organization, one-on-one instruction, and much, much more. 


Where are classes held? 
Unless stated otherwise, most classes are held in the Unique University classroom within the Unique Photo Superstore (123 US Highway 46 West, Fairfield, NJ 07004). We also hold classes at our Philadelphia, PA location (28 South 2nd Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106). 

What should I bring to class? 
You're encouraged to bring your camera and a notebook and pen to most classes. Some classes will require additional equipment, so please check the class descriptions. 

Will lunch or refreshments be included? 
Lunch and refreshments are not provided for any classes under 6 hours unless noted. 

How do I register for a class? 
You can register online, in-store at the concierge, or by phone at either 973-377-6454 or 973-377-2007. Please note that you will need to provide payment information. 

Can I register at the door? 
For most classes, you're free to register at the concierge desk prior to the start of the class. Please note that there are some classes that offer "Early Bird Special" rates and others that have limited seating, so it would be in your best interest to register early for such classes. 

I wanted to register for ______ class, but it is now sold out. Is there a waiting list? 
Please contact us at 973-377-6454 or [email protected] with the following information: your name, phone number, email address, and the class name and date. 

My question has not been addressed here. Is there someone I can contact? 
Please contact us at 973-377-6454 or [email protected] with any additional inquiries.

Unique University Class Cancellation Policy
- Classes costing less than $99 may be canceled up to 48 hours in advance for a full refund. For classes costing $100 or more, advanced notice of seven days before the class is necessary for a full refund.
- Requests for cancellation made after these deadlines will be awarded store credit in the amount paid for registration towards a future Unique University seminar or workshop.
- Cancellations made within 24 hours of the beginning of a class will not be honored and no refund or credit will be given.
- Cancellations of any class utilizing models will be subject to a cancellation fee of 50% of the purchased price (up to $100).
- Cancellations of any class that includes an admission ticket (including, but not limited to: museums, gardens, shows, exhibits, and special events or locations) may be subject to forfeiture of the admission ticket fee.
** Attention American Express cardholders: If you cancel a registration for a class costing $100 or more, there will be a 3% cancellation fee deducted from your refund or store credit.

Balloon Festival

07/28/23 Fri 1:00PM, 07/29/23 Sat 5:45AM, 07/30/23 Sun 5:45AM

Instructional Seminar:
Unique Photo
123 US Hwy 46 (West)
Fairfield, NJ 07004

Balloon Festival:
Solberg Airport
39 Thor Solberg Rd
Whitehouse Station, NJ 08889

07/26/23 Wed 6:30PM -- Unique Photo

Michael Downey - 07/28/23 Fri, 1:00PM

Michael is the Head Instructor of Unique University and has taught photography for over 18 years.

Michael Downey - 07/29/23 Sat, 5:45AM

Michael is the Head Instructor of Unique University and has taught photography for over 18 years.

Michael Downey - 07/30/23 Sun, 5:45AM

Michael is the Head Instructor of Unique University and has taught photography for over 18 years.

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