Not long to go now for Bristol’s International Balloon Fiesta. This is Europe’s largest annual meeting of hot air balloons, attracting over 130 Hot Air Balloons from across the world. So if you are looking for free things to do in Bristol this is the place for you. Tens of thousands of visitors from across the country and beyond come to celebrate this spectacular event. It is celebrating its 41st anniversary in 2019 and will be bigger and better than ever before.
The Fiesta is truly a sight that can only be seen in Bristol and is held over four days in August every year, at Ashton Court Estate. There is so much to keep you busy during the day including the mass ascents where as many as 100 balloons launch at the same time, twice per day at 6am and 6pm, subject to weather conditions. There are also shows and entertainment, fairground rides, food stalls, fantastic trade and craft stands and fireworks. It’s also a great opportunity to have a ride in a balloon.
The night glow is also something not to miss, the hot-air balloons light up their burners in time to music. Night glows are usually on the Thursday and Saturday from 9pm and usually last for an hour and is then followed with a firework finale. Some people see this as the highlight of the Fiesta.
The event was first held in 1970 and is now one of the largest in Europe and takes place in the Aston Court Estate annually. For it’s 40th Anniversary some of the most iconic shapes returned to mark this huge milestone. These included favourites like Superbike, the Michelin Man, a special huge birthday cake shaped balloon, a pair of Bertie Bassett’s.
What to Expect this year at Bristol Balloon Fiesta
Free entry to this amazing fun family 4 day event. Be prepared and bring your breaksfast, disposable bbqs are welcome or there is plenty on offer from hot food outlets. Enjoy browsing around lots of trade and craft stands, grab a drink from the public bars, relax and enjoy the entertainment and Live Music on offer throughout the Fiesta.
Thursday 8th August – 12.00 pm – Opening Day – Hot Air Balloons are tethered throughout the afternoon. After a weather briefing at 6pm (weather allowing), there will be the first mass ascent. At 9.00 pm this is followed by the very popular nightglow, 25 hot air balloons turn into light bulbs, glowing in time to the music and to finish an amazing firework display.
Friday 9th August – Two mass Hot Air Balloons ascents. The first is at 6.00 am. 8.00 am Model Hot Air Balloon Competitions. 12.00 pm Hot Air Balloon Tethering. 6.00 pm the second Hot Air Balloon mass ascent.
Saturday 10th August – Two mass Hot Air Balloons ascents. 6.00 am mass Hot Air Balloon ascent. 12.00 pm to 5.00 pm Entertainment in the Arena. 6.00 pm Another mass ascent. 9.00 pm The nightglow with firework finale.
Sunday 11th August – Two mass Hot Air Balloons ascents. 6.00 am mass Hot Air Balloon ascent. 12.00 pm to 5.00 pm Entertainment in the Arena. 6.00 pm Another mass ascent.
Balloon rides are available during the event. Booking in advance is necessary and can be made via the following ride operators – Baily Balloons, Bristol Balloons, Elite Air, First Flight & ABC Flights Ltd.
TRAVEL AND PARKING
Entry to the Fiesta is free, but parking is charged from £9.14 to £27.69 depending on the parking area. Tickets must be purchased in advance. Last entry to the Fiesta car park is 5 pm each day, spaces are expected to sell out quickly, so you need to book asap. There are signs, which are yellow to guide travellers to the correct car park and it’s best not to follow your sat-nav directions as there is more than one entrance. Find out more and book TICKETS.
If you’re coming from the North, M5 Junction 19: take the A369 towards Bristol city centre.
From the South, M5 Junction 21: take the A370 towards Bristol.
From the East or West, M4 Junction 20: take the M5 southbound, leaving at junction 19 for the A369 towards Bristol city centre.
The First Bus Balloon Shuttle bus service is operated by First Bus, from Temple Meads Train Station and the City Centre – Metrobus Stop C2, Colston Avenue to the Balloon Fiesta. Tickets can be purchased on the bus with no need to pre-book. Buses will run every few minutes.
Tickets are just £3 single or £5 for a day ticket, with a special group ticket of £15 which allows up to five adults to travel together. We’ve introduced two new ticket features for 2019: up to two children (15 and under) can travel free with each fare-paying adult and you can buy discounted tickets in advance of the day on the First Bus mTicket app.
You can buy adult day and group shuttle bus tickets on the mTicket app and save money! Just download the First Bus app, click on the mTickets tab and select the Bristol area. Click on Special Events tickets and choose an adult day ticket for only £4 or group (up to 5 adults travelling together) for only £12 per day. This allows unlimited travel on the shuttle bus only for one day.
Address – Ashton Court Estate, Long Ashton, Bristol, BS41 9JN
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