Flying high from Thursday, this year’s Bristol Balloon Fiesta is in its 40th year…
Just 27 hot air balloons took to the sky some 40 years ago for the very first balloon fiesta. This year, four decades later, more than 130 will come together from across the globe.
A free event for the whole family, the festival is held every August spanning four days of entertainment at Ashton Court Estate, attracting hundreds of thousands of people.
On the Thursday and Saturday evening dozens of hot air balloons turn into giant light bulbs and glow in time to a specially commissioned soundtrack. A now iconic part of the event, the nightglow wasn’t put on until 1990, more than a decade after the fiesta began.
The balloons comes in all shapes and sizes and a special category was introduced in 1997 encouraging impressive designs. Since then a giant Minion, Sonic the Hedgehog and a Smurf have all taken part.
This year you can expect to see favourites like the Michelin Man and the giant superbike return. Bertie Bassett hasn’t been seen since 2003, but he’ll be making a special comeback for the 40thanniversary celebrations.
The grounds open at midday and you can stroll around the site and watch the balloons being tethered through the afternoon. At around 6pm pilots are briefed on the weather for the first mass ascent. Then at 9pm, as dusk sets, they take to the sky for the night glow, finishing the evening with a firework finale finishing at 10.30pm
The day ends a little earlier at 8.30pm, but starts at 6am with a mass hot air balloon lift. Tethering takes place throughout the afternoon, with a second ascent begins at 6pm.
Don’t forget to make time for the trade stands, fairground rides and entertainment on site all weekend.
Another early start on Saturday with a mass balloon lift early doors from 6am. At 8am there are model hot air balloon competitions, whilst the main arena will come to life between midday and 5pm with entertainment.
Look forward to a second balloon lift at 6pm and another nightglow and firework extravaganza at 9pm.
The last day of the fiesta sees the same line up as Friday, so come and enjoy the day before the event closes for 2018.
Whilst entry to the fiesta is free, there’s a charge for the car park, which allows for the hundreds of vehicles on site to be managed. Tickets need to be purchased in advance and printed out to be taken with you on the day of arrival.
If you can’t get down to the fiesta, don’t worry, it’s thought the balloons can be seen up to 90 miles away!
For more information and to book tickets visit: http://www.bristolballoonfiesta.co.uk
Whether you’re travelling by car, bus or bike, check out this guide to the best ways to arrive at the fiesta.