There are a lot of ways to see the sights in Canada, but one of the most unique is to do it from a hot air balloon where you can watch the landscape slowly pass by as you drift with the clouds.If you’ve never experienced the thrill of being in a hot air balloon, there are several licensed operators across the country that can take you into the sky. Here are just a few of them:Ottawa Hot Air (Ottawa, Ontario)
For more than 35 years, Ottawa Hot Air has been taking small groups of up to four people aloft in one of the many balloons in their fleet. Their launch site is about an hour east of downtown and the rides take off at sunrise or a few hours before sunset and take you over the gorgeous scenery of rural eastern Ontario. If you fall in love with the sport, you’ll be glad to hear that they even offer lessons on how to pilot a balloon.Ontario Balloon Rides (Kitchener, Ontario)
Whether you want a private flight to pop the question to your sweetie or don’t mind sharing the balloon’s basket with strangers, Ontario Balloon Rides can take you into the sky from one of their many launch sites in the fields around Kitchener. Like all balloon rides, departures are weather dependent. Too much wind will ground the flight and not enough wind will do the same because wind is what pushes the balloon from A to B.Balloons Aloft (Winnipeg, Manitoba)The flat land around Winnipeg and the constant prairie wind makes this an ideal location for ballooning. Balloons Aloft takes passengers on a thrilling experience on the outskirts of Manitoba’s capital and when the craft lands, everyone celebrates with a champagne toast, a tradition that goes back to the first French balloonists who packed a bottle of wine as a peace offering to placate farmers when they landed in their fields.Sundance Balloons (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan)
A balloon ride over the South Saskatchewan River in Saskatoon will quickly show you why it’s known as the City of Bridges. Sundance Balloons can not only take you into the skies above Saskatoon in their balloons that tower more than a storey high, but also has operations near several other Canadian cities like Toronto, Edmonton Grande Prairie and Regina, among others.Kiss the Sky Balloons (Lethbridge, Alberta)
Flying in a hot air balloon is nothing like being in an airplane. There is no sense of acceleration and it almost feels like the ground is moving away from you rather than the other way around. You can experience that sensation with Kiss the Sky Balloons in the area around Lethbridge and discover why Alberta is Big Sky country.Hot air balloon festivals across CanadaBalloon rides are incredibly safe and licensed operators have lots of experience taking passengers into the sky, but if you’d rather admire hot air balloons from the ground, there are several colourful festivals held across Canada each year where pilots gather with their craft in a spectacular display. Here are some dates and locations to check out:– Mark Stachiew is a Montreal-based freelance writer who shares travel news and tips at www.stachiew.com and curates a collection of cool travel gear at www.jetsetgeneration.com.