It's back.

Anything can happen in Jersey. Even balloons. (Craig Allen photo)

The New Jersey Lottery Festival of Ballooning is the largest summertime hot air balloon and music festival in North America.

A lone balloon, ready to fly, long before sunrise. (Craig Allen photo)

And, it's right here in New Jersey.

Some balloons are ready...some need more...hot air. (Craig Allen photo)

I had the pleasure of being able to attend the press opening of this year's festival...

6:14 am. That's what the timestamp says. (Craig Allen photo).

...and to see the morning balloon ascension...under beautiful blue skies, with no breeze (ideal for hot air balloons). The temperature, a very pleasant 65 degrees.

Floating on air. (Craig Allen photo)

The first balloons lifted skyward, just before 6:30 (right on time).

We The People...want to float free in the Jersey sky. (Craig Allen photo)

The balloons will rise over the Central Jersey skies at around 6:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday nights, and Saturday and Sunday morning, at around 6:30 a.m.

Trust me, it's worth getting up early.

There was no balloon festival last year, due to COVID-19, which makes being able to walk the grounds of Solberg Airport in Readington, all the more special.

Check out all the crafters and vendors, and, of course, there's lots of food.

"Max Weinberg's Jukebox" hits the music stage at 8pm on Friday ... Barenaked Ladies at 8 p.m. on Saturday...and Styx plays at 3 p.m. on Sunday.

Big Joe Henry broadcasts live on Saturday from 10 a.m.-3 p.m., on New Jersey 101.5

Get tickets at 1-800-HOT-AIR-9, or online at balloonfestival.com (click here).

COVID-19 precautions are being taken, and you can even get vaccinated at the New Jersey Lottery Festival of Ballooning.

Vax up from 1-4 p.m. on Friday, or 8-11 a.m. and noon-4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

The eagle (and friends) float high over the New Jersey landscape. (Craig Allen photo)

The hot air balloons are back, flying over the Central Jersey skies this weekend.

Enjoy the return of this Jersey summer tradition, with New Jersey 101.5.

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