Festival of Ballooning: VIP Registration with Balloon Ride

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Join Michael Downey at the 38th annual NJ 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. With our group's special field access, you'll be behind the scenes and free to roam for a variety of shots. Don't miss out on capturing breathtaking visuals of balloons from around the world!

• (1) Seminar at Fairfield on Wed, July 21st
        Sessions: 11am - 12:30pm OR 6:30pm - 8pm
**Choose the correct session when registering!
**Seats will be limited and socially distanced.
**If you've attended in the past, you DO NOT need to attend again.
**If you're not attending the seminar, email [email protected] ASAP to arrange a time to pick up your credentials.
• (1) "Behind the Scenes" field access pass
• (1) VIP Parking Pass
• (1) VIP Blue Sky Tent Club Pass
**Acts as your ticket into the Balloon Festival.
**Access to tables/seating and private restrooms in the tent.
**Does NOT include concert seating or food.
• (1) Morning Balloon Ride on Saturday or Sunday
**Please arrive at the festival by 5:15am for registration.
**Balloons will launch at approximately 6:30am.
*Limited to 20 registrants per day.
*Please wear masks and practice social distancing.
*Click here for directions to the festival.

Available Dates

There are currently no upcoming classes.

SEMINAR:  Wednesday, July 21st @ Unique Photo (Fairfield)
Choose One: 11am - 12:30pm *OR* 6:30pm - 8pm
Learn how to photograph hot air balloons as they're launching and while in the air on your balloon ride! Head Instructor Michael Downey will instruct the VIP registrants on different techniques and offer insight on shots to look for during the festival. Michael will also discuss gear recommendations, logistics on where to meet, and what to expect during the course of the morning.

Please be sure to choose the correct seminar session (11am - 12:30pm OR 6:30pm - 8pm). Seating will be limited for each session in order for safe social distancing.

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] ASAP to arrange a date/time to pick up your credentials at our Fairfield location. Credentials MUST be picked up from Unique Photo Fairfield by 6pm on Friday, July 23rd, or else you won't be able to get into the festival and you'll miss your balloon ride.
Choose One: Saturday, July 24th *OR* Sunday, July 25th
On your chosen day, meet up with Michael and the other VIP attendees at the Festival of Ballooning (Solberg Airport - 30 Thor Solberg Road, Whitehouse Station, NJ 08889). You'll head straight for check-in at the Balloon Ride Registration Tent and receive your balloon ride assignment. Once the field opens, you'll be able to photograph the different balloons as they're setting up for launch. You'll then hop into your assigned balloon and ascend to the skies! A chase vehicle will bring you back to the festival where you can stay and enjoy the rest of the day's activities.

• For those attending the festival on Saturday, you will receive the "Behind the Scenes" access to photograph the Saturday morning launch and then go on your own balloon ride (6:30am). Please plan to arrive at the festival by 5:15am for check-in.

• For those attending the festival on Sunday, you will receive the "Behind the Scenes" access to photograph the Sunday morning launch and then go on your own balloon ride (6:30am). Please plan to arrive at the festival by 5:15am for check-in.
How long is a balloon ride?
Each balloon ride will last approximately 20 minutes to an hour. Once the balloon lands, you will be driven back to the festival grounds in the balloon chase vehicle. The whole experience can take anywhere from two to three hours, but it will be an experience that you will never forget!

Are there any passenger restrictions?
Passengers should be tall enough to see over the edge of the basket (about 42 inches high), be able to stand for at least an hour, have no medical issues that may affect your ability to participate in light physical activity, and should not be too far along in pregnancy. All passengers should be sure to inform their pilot of any and all potential medical or physical problems prior to flight.

What should I wear?
You should dress as you would for any outdoor activity: loose comfortable clothing with sturdy footwear. Please no heeled shoes or sandals; sneakers are highly recommended. A light jacket or sweatshirt might be worth bringing for cooler mornings and evenings. The temperature up in the balloon will be about the same as it is on the ground.

What time should I arrive for my flight?
You should plan to arrive at the festival and check in with the Balloon Ride Tent by 5:15am. This tent will be located adjacent to the balloon launch area. Keep in mind there may be traffic leading up to the festival grounds, so plan ahead. Please note, checking-in later than the above times may result in loss of your ride so please be on time!

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).
** 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.

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