I've never ridden in one but, the first weekend in August, Binghamton, New York hosts a Spiediefest, including live music, rides, and (weather depending) hot air balloon launches.
Because this balloon rally is relatively small (this year about 25 balloons participated) you can literally get close up, almost close enough to touch.
Here is a video of the last part of the inflation.
Here are some of the other balloons. In this one, you can see the glow of the fire as the balloon gets ready to launch.
And one final picture.
I'll share more with you another time.
Would you like to ride in one of these beautiful balloons? At this festival, it will set you back $200 per person. Maybe one day.....