Visit Europe’s biggest Hot Air Balloon event: The 36th Bristol International Balloon Fiesta. Experience four days of flying fun for the whole family from the 7th - 10th August.

If you are planning a trip to Bristol or the surrounding area in August, do not miss out on the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta. This amazing spectacle of more than 130 hot air balloons taking off at dawn, and lighting up the sky at night, is something you surely will remember for the rest of your life. During four days of summer, this event gathers half a million visitors on the idyllic grounds of Ashton Court Estate. Everyone is here to see one thing; the colorful balloons of all shapes and sizes lift off into the open sky above the city. On the ground, there is entertainment for the whole family, like carousels, face painting, lovely food and concert arenas for acoustic music. There is something for everyone, and if you’ve got a sweet tooth, it could be worth visiting the tempting cupcake stands, the pick ‘n’ mix tents or take a trip to the ice cream van.

Where it all started

In 1970, hot air balloon creator, Don Cameron, founded Cameron Balloons Ltd. He was the adventurous type, and not afraid to try new and amazing flights with his balloons. The early days of ballooning always offered some new pioneering adventures, like flying over the Sahara Desert and the Alps.  Don wanted to be the first to cross the Atlantic, and set out to do so in 1978. Unfortunately, the hot air balloon ended in the sea about 100 miles from France. Luckily it ended well, and without knowing it at the time, this was to be the beginning of something big.

Afterwards, his fellow trip members of the Bristol Junior Chamber wanted to hear all about Don’s exploits. In the pub afterwards, the idea of Bristol Fiesta was born, and was first held the following year, in 1979. Who could ever have imagined the huge success it has become? It is now Europe’s largest annual festival of its kind, the second biggest in the world and one of the biggest outdoor events in the UK.

Some fun festival facts:

  • 90% of visitors plan on returning the following year
  • 97% of visitors come with family, friends or partner
  • Over 79% of the visitors rate the event good or excellent
  • 45% of the balloon festival guests have travelled 50 miles or more

These facts speak for themselves about the success of the event.

Some festival highlights

You know the unique feeling of being up at sunrise. The clear crisp air and the quiet atmosphere is the perfect way to start a beautiful summer’s day. If you add to that, a festival breakfast and 130 balloons lifting up into the morning sun, you will have the perfect summer moment. Make sure you don’t miss the 6am mass ascent of the balloons at Ashton Court.

On Thursday 7th and Saturday 9th August, at approximately 9.15pm, you can experience the spectacular Night Glow. It is a stunning sight to watch 30 ballooning teams light up their balloons, with the backdrop of fireworks.

If you really want to take in the festival feeling, head over to the Bandstand, located at the bottom end of the arena. You will find an array of local food stands, great wine and beer, plus entertainment from local musical talents. For more tips on what to see and do, please check the Insider’s Guide to Bristol International Balloon Fiesta.

When spending your day at the Balloon Fiesta, comfortable city center accommodation at the Radisson Blu Hotel, Bristol makes the ideal base. It offers guests convenient parking, restaurants and an array of stylish rooms and suites for a relaxing stay.

Have fun!