Published Jan. 21, 2013
The Simpsonville hot air balloon festival, formerly known as Freedom Weekend Aloft, will add events and be rebranded as “Aloft 2013.”
In addition to the annual hot air balloons, plans call for a zipline, helicopter rides, model airplane races, stand-up paddle boarding, craft beer, wine tastings and upgraded entertainment at Heritage Park.
The festival has been held in Simpsonville for more than 30 years. It is the largest hot air balloon festival in the Southeast, and the second largest in the nation, with around 200,000 in attendance annually, according to a news release.
Organizers are expecting a spike in growth for 2013.
“With new leadership, a re-energized board and a more creative planning process, we’re taking this re-engineered event to brand new heights,” Marketing Chair Margaret Burnquist said in a news release.
The festival, presented by the Greenville Hospital System from May 24 to 27, is a 501c3 nonprofit. Aloft 2013’s charitable partner is the Center for Developmental Services, which helps the parents of developmentally delayed children access the tools and resources they need.
Aloft 2013 also plans to host a series of events before the festival, including bringing a hot air balloon that’s wheelchair accessible for the children to experience a flight for themselves.
“We’re bringing the best of outdoor adventure and experiences together with great food and entertainment to help benefit our greater community,” Burnquist said.