Bristol International Balloon Fiesta (6 to 9 August)

brisol-balloon-idebar_logo09A world centre for ballooning, Bristol has become home to Europe’s largest hot air balloon festival, the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta.

Set in the beautiful parkland of Ashton Court Estate, the festival enables enthusiasts to learn more about ballooning and features over 100 hot air balloon launches.

There is also a packed programme of family entertainment including live music, a funfair, daredevil stunt acts and a large market area.

A great carnival atmosphere prevails during the four-day event with live music covering a range of genres with something for all ages.

First held in 1978, the event is now the largest hot air balloon festival in Europe and one of the biggest free events in Bristol that attracts over 500,000 visitors each year.

Night Glows
nightglowpage07Night Glows are planned for Thursday 6th and Saturday 8th August 2009 at 9.30pm.

  • Once again the Night Glow will feature breathtaking spectacles of some 30 tethered balloons illuminating the night sky like giant light bulbs.
  • As night falls on the Fiesta, people of all ages flock to watch the striking Night Glow. Under coded instructions via radio communication, the pilots create a variety of dazzling effects from only three main commands: burn, flicker and flash. These astounding sequences are set to a special music mix.
  • An impressive array of sequences are expertly choreographed to the rhythm of the music and the atmospheric display leads to a dramatic finale – a magnificent firework display, put together by Bristol-based Skyburst. Energetic and awe-inspiring, it’s a night to remember!

Special Shapes Rodeo
specialshapesv7Especially for 2009 the Special Shapes Rodeo will welcome some brand new shaped balloons!

  • Currently in secret production we are looking forward to releasing the new balloons in the summer!
  • The stars of the Fiesta are always the special shapes, in previous years we have seen balloons of all weird and wonderful shapes and sizes including a flying cathedral from Switzerland, a New Zealand kiwi bird, an LG Mobile Phone from Spain, a tortoise and a mouth-watering orange segment from Belgium! This year promises to be as original as ever!
  • As well as the new special shape balloons we shall welcome back some popular favourites such as the Scottish piper, Churchill dog, the Tesco Trolley, Jaguar car, Nokia telephone and Stroud and Swindon house!
  • Special shape balloons first took to the skies in 1976, when Bristol-based Cameron Balloons launched its new concept hot-air balloon sculpture into the skies above the city. The balloon was in the form of the Robertson’s Golly and it heralded the start of a new era in aerial advertising and balloon design. From this initial concept flight, special shaped balloon designs have ‘taken off’, with designs becoming increasingly complex as customers realise that their scope is limited only by their imagination.
  • Special shape balloons are an example of not only complex design skill in their production, but also admirable flying skills from the pilot involved. They are more difficult to make and fly than round balloons. They require more manpower and technical design knowledge in the production stage and a more experienced pilot to handle the balloon in flight, which makes witnessing them an exciting experience. Ultimately, a special shape balloon is distinctive and memorable, but most of all, it`s fun – and that`s the point of the Fiesta!

Model Balloons
After last year’s tremendous success, Model balloons will be returning again this year! Along with our Special Shapes balloons and rodeo, the fantastic Model Balloons will be taking to the skies! These hand-made miniature hot air balloons are approximately 1/50th of the volume of a regular hot air balloon but are just as entertaining.

Ranging anywhere from 12ft – 30ft, they come in a variety of amusing and wonderful shapes and sizes and are a sight to behold – unmanned and radio remote controlled from the ground. This year we have a whole host coming to the Fiesta including a dog, elephant, bear, ladybirds…and even a lighthouse!

main-arena-eventsRAF Red Arrows
Britain’s world famous aerobatic display team – The Red Arrows have confirmed that they will be appearing at the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta on Saturday 8th August.

At the 30th Anniversary of Bristol International Balloon Fiesta the Red Arrows defied gravity by performing loops, rolls, bends and twists in a beautiful air display. This year the aerobatic team will return for another astounding display of high speed stunts.

Since the Team’s creation in 1965 the Red Arrows have flown over 4000 displays in 53 countries. Comprised of fast jet pilots from frontline Royal Air Force squadrons, today the Red Arrows are renowned throughout the world as master showmen as well as ambassadors for Great Britain. They also support UK industry by demonstrating the capabilities of British equipment and expertise. The Red Arrow display at the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta will be one of only a select number of performances available in the UK during the summer months.

Fiesta event director Susan Tanner is delighted that the team have accepted her invitation to return to Bristol this year “Last year’s display was staggering and this year’s promises to be better than ever. The juxtaposition of smooth sailing balloons against the adrenalin pumping skills of the jet aircraft ensures that there is something for everyone.”

EXIT Parachute team
EXIT parachute team will return to the Balloon Fiesta for their 15th consecutive year performing adrenalin- pumping stunts and jumps. The Midlands based team will awe the crowds with their selection of aerial jumps from helicopters and hot air balloons.

If weather conditions allow, the team will take off from the main arena and ascend above Ashton Court Estate. From a height of 5000 feet, the team will jump from a helicopter and free-fall for 10 seconds before moving into a group formation. Orange smoke trailing from their heels will paint the sky as they fall at tremendous speeds before exploding in a bomb burst of colour.

Visitors will have to hold on to their hats as the team shoot over the crowds and enter back into the arena at high landing speeds. The Team’s accuracy will also be put to the test as yellow landing markers will be laid in the arena for the team to parachute down onto.

EXIT has proved extremely popular in previous years and we look forward to welcoming them back again for the 2009 Fiesta.

How do we get there?
Ashton Court Estate, Long Ashton, Bristol, BS41 9JN

  • Ashton court is situated to the West of Bristol city centre just outside the urban area. It is easily reached from the M5 with direct access from the A369 Portishead road.
  • Access by road From the M5 take junction 18. To get onto the A4 follow signs to Bristol Airport. Cross the river A370 then the B3128. The Exhibitors entrance is on your right opposite the Long Ashton turning. The Balloonist entrance is the next right.
  • From Junction 19 take the A369 towards Bristol city centre. Public Red car park, Gate 9 entrances are on the right.. Exhibitors and balloonists take the B3128 and continue as above. From the M32 follow signs to city centre and then Weston-Super-Mare or Portishead.

Where can I find out more?