Ashton Court, Bristol, 7-9th August 2015
As with any Lighter-than-air festival the weather is a key component. Safe flying requires calm conditions and a complete absence of thunderstorms. For a pleasant change this was the forecast for all three days; attracting balloonists and the public to this free admission event. Apart from the fairground and retail attractions of the grassed amphitheatre it is early morning and early evening that provide the best launch conditions.
Such was the power of attraction to this renowned annual festival that over 100,000 attended forcing the organisers to close the gates around 1900 hours on the Saturday; there was literally not a square metre of vacant grass within sight of the arena and traffic backed up on all the narrow local roads.
The afternoon crowds enjoyed some local aerobatics, wing walkers and helicopter pleasure flights and, on Saturday night, a short but spectacular firework display rounded off a ‘nightglow’ when about twenty balloons inflate and remain tethered whilst a choreographed music presentation synchronises with the use of the burners illuminating the envelopes from within.
With over 100 balloons in most of the launch windows this spectacular event has become an international symbol of Bristol and a major date in the aviation calendar. However, if the weather seems good arrive early or risk watching from a distance.