Best time to go to Pennsylvania

Thurston Classic 2024

A great and free ballooning event with a long history

Dates: June 14–16, 2024

Thurston Classic
Thurston Classic
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Every June, Meadville, Pennsylvania hosts the Thurston Classic Hot Air Balloon Event, open to the public. The festival takes place at Robertson Athletic Complex on 204 Park Avenue–a non-smoking location, which offers just enough space for all the balloon fun. Now, let's get into the details!

History of the Thurston Classic

The Thurston Classic ballooning event got its name from the local Thurston family, who learned and practiced the sport back in the 19th century. Samuel Sylvester Thurston was the first to introduce the activity to Meadville. Despite the townspeople's skepticism, Samuel bought his first balloon in 1860. Besides ballooning for his amusement, he offered free rides to the community at fairs and 4th of July celebrations. Later on, Samuel's son Alic Thurston continued the tradition. Lastly, in 1988, a group of volunteers founded the Meadville Bicentennial celebration to honor the daring feats of the Thurstons. Joyce Stevens, in cooperation with Ted Watts, did a great job organizing the festival. That's how the Thurston Classic was born.


The festival doesn't provide an option of rides, but the visitors can enjoy an incredible spectacle of balloons filling the skies over Meadville. Hot air balloons take off approximately at 7 am. Plus, there are evening events, planned at 6 pm and a night glow, scheduled at 9 pm. We recommend coming early to get the best spots with great views. Also, there's no seating, so bring your chairs or blankets.

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Last updated: by Olha Savych