Bristol International Balloon Fiesta

Bristol International Balloon Fiesta
The Bristol International Balloon Fiesta is an annual hot air balloon festival held in the city of Bristol, South West England. It is the largest event of its kind in the United Kingdom and one of the largest in Europe.

The Bristol International Balloon Fiesta was founded by Scottish balloonist Don Cameron. Cameron developed the first modern hot air balloon in the UK in 1967 and then went on to found Cameron Balloons that is now that world's largest hot air balloon manufacturer. The company is based in Bristol, so no wonder that this city hosts the country's largest ballooning event.

The inaugural Bristol Balloon Fiesta was held in 1979 and featured 27 balloons. Today, as many as 100 balloons may participate in mass ascents during the festival. The event is held at Ashton Court, a mansion house and estate that lies to the west of Bristol. In the past, it used to take place during the second week of September, but it has been moved to early August to avoid frequent cancellation of flights because of bad weather.

The Bristol International Balloon Fiesta lasts for four days, attracting over 100,000 attendees per day. Mass ascensions are held twice a day, at 6 am and 6 pm, weather permitting. Afternoon launches are the most popular, but if you want to get the full experience, you should attend at least one morning launch. Many regular festival-goers like to enjoy breakfast while watching the balloons rise into the morning sky. It is also possible to book a hot air balloon flight from one of the operators that participate in the festival.

Like most other hot air balloon festivals, the Fiesta also hosts spectacular Night Glows. After dark, tethered balloons glow to music, followed by a fireworks display. Some people see night glows as the highlight of the festival. However, others think that the real highlight is special shaped balloons. They have included an upside down balloon, a kiwi bird, Stuart the Minion, Rupert the Bear, the Tesco Trolley, Bertie Bassett, and many others.

Alongside mass ascensions and Night Glows, the Fiesta hosts hot air balloon competitions and entertainment during the day, from music to circus. In recent years, the event has included small scale air displays, featuring aerobatic teams such as the Blades and the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, commonly known as the Red Arrows.

Bristol International Balloon Fiesta

Photo: Tristan Martin




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