Up In The Air!

The city and county of Bristol, named in 2017 as the ‘coolest’ city in Britain by Rough Guides, and winner of ‘Best Place to Live in Britain’ by the Sunday Times, is home to the one of the largest international hot air balloon festivals in Europe.

Started in 1979 by Don Cameron, who completed the first crossing of the Sahara in a hot air balloon in 1971 and is founder of Bristol-based Cameron Balloons, the event now attracts around 500,000 visitors over the four day festival with over 130 hot air balloons from all over the world taking to the skies above Bristol by enthusiasts travelling from Germany, Taiwan, Switzerland, Thailand and the Netherlands to name just a few!

The famous “Night-Glow” event where the balloons are lit up using their burners at ground level in time to music, is incredible to experience and well worth visiting the festival for alone.

Since 2003, Brunel’s famous Clifton Suspension Bridge, which is a main route to the Ashton Court Estate, is closed at peak times during the event to all pedestrians and cars due to the weight of the crowds being too much for the iconic bridge to take safely.

There have been many iconic shaped balloons featuring in the event over the years including a Thomas the Tank Engine, Maxwell House coffee jar, Simbaloo the Longleat Lion, a giant Minion balloon, a Churchill the dog, Bertie Bassett, a giant Smurf, a Chubb Fire Extinguisher, and a Sponge Bob Square Pants to name just a few! There are of course the more traditional shaped balloons like the Bristol University one featured in the photograph from this year.

Now its 39th year in 2017, the annual event continues to grow and is a huge attraction for people all over the world to enjoy some very special balloons, as well as various aero and parachute displays – it’s also free to get in (car parking charges apply) so if you can walk or cycle then it is a very inexpensive family-friendly day (or night) out so well worth putting in your calendar for next year!

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