National Balloon Ascension Day | January 9
(Last Updated On: January 5, 2023)


National Balloon Ascension Day on January 9th commemorates the first balloon flight in the United States in 1793.


The French aeronaut, Jean Pierre Blanchard, took flight over the Walnut Street Prison in Philadelphia above a large crowd. He ascended in a hydrogen gas balloon, a popular balloon at the time. George Washington witnessed the launch of the balloon, too. That day he lit the fires of fascination with ballooning in Americans.

However, more than hot air balloons also flew in the skies over time. Several varieties of balloons took shape over the next 100 years. Airships inflated by hydrogen and shaped like cigars took to the skies. They were also called blimps. Their engines gave these balloons directional flight and speed.

By the 20th century, large airships with cabins carried passengers. The gas-filled giants eventually disappeared from the skies. Tragedies like the Hindenburg on May 6, 1937, where over a third of the 97 passengers perished when the airship caught fire helped to usher in a new era.

Today, hot air ballooning is enjoyed from the ground and the air. It’s also a scientific tool for weather and other research.


Plan a trip to a hot air balloon festival. In the United States, there are around 30 balloon festivals to choose from. Go to one or go to them all. You can find a comprehensive list at TownAndTourist. If you’ve been ballooning, be sure to share your photos and experiences. It’s sure a sight to see. From the preparation to the breathtaking launches, balloonists certainly provide an eyeful. And of course, memories for a lifetime. It’s a great way to #CelebrateEveryDay and be a part of the Celebration Nation. Be sure to share using #BalloonAscensionDay on social media.


National Balloon Ascension Day has been observed since at least 2011 in commemoration of the first manned balloon launch in the United States on January 9, 1793. If anyone would like to sponsor a National Day Calendar balloon, contact us at 1-701-204-6674.

Balloon FAQ

Q. Where is the largest balloon festival in the United States?
A. The International Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, New Mexico is the country’s largest balloon festival in the United States.

Q. How do I find balloon festivals near me?
A. lists balloon festivals worldwide.

Q. Do I have to be licensed to fly a hot air balloon?
A. Yes. Hot air balloon pilots either have a pilot’s license or an airman’s certificate.

Q. I’m afraid of heights. Would I enjoy hot air ballooning?
A. You don’t have to fly in a hot air balloon to appreciate the majesty and beauty of a hot air balloon. Just seeing their bright colors against a brisk blue backdrop can be an exhilarating experience. Some balloonists will also offer tethered balloon rides. These rides allow passengers to ride upward about 100 feet while remaining tethered to the ground by an anchor. This experience may be more to your liking. 

Join the

Stay up to date on upcoming national days and Celebrate Every Day!

National Day Radio