Go on a hot air balloon ride

Pskov Region

Russia Beyond
Russia Beyond
Circular shadows rise on the horizon. Burning gas irrepressibly hisses from the right, then from the left. Tight ropes hold huge canvases with warm air, tearing into the sky…

The ‘Aeronautics Festival’ in Velikiye Luki is a real embodiment of a childhood dream of flying in a hot air balloon from books and films about travelers. Every year, dozens of athletes from different parts of the country gather here to show their skills in a fair competition. 

Multi-colored balloons, piloted by seasoned pros, stand frozen, awaiting the order to start. Time to jump into the basket!

Taking off in a hot air balloon is completely different. Not the one that presses into the seat of an airliner under the rumble of turbines operating at maximum power. There, you see the world through a window-slit and, here, you start your journey with a 360-degree panorama and eagerly look around the world for impressions.

It’s as if the ground is suddenly pushing the basket up with your legs, causing that familiar tickling feeling in your stomach. Overhead, flames rise up and gas burns - it’s already hot to look at!

You rise higher and higher: the edges of the trees have long been under your feet, the boxes of residential buildings seem like toy models and insect-cars scurry back and forth along the thread-roads.

The wind is the main helmsman; where it goes, it will pull the balloon along with it. And, at this moment, you feel not just in the sky, but a real part of the sky!

How to get a hot air balloon ride?

The Aeronautics Festival in Velikiye Luki takes place every summer. Several hundred fans of aeronautics come here on cars, trains and buses to see balloons soaring up at sunrise or sunset.

It’s better to find out about the dates and the opportunity to join a crew of a hot air balloon basket in advance - by googling “Aeronautics Festival in Velikiye Luki”. 

Some launches are held as part of the Russian Aeronautical Championship, so the team may refuse to take a newcomer on board.

If you are lucky, then remember that it is much colder at altitude than on the ground. Dress warmly so that nothing prevents you from enjoying the panoramic view of the surroundings of Velikiye Luki.

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