The Bristol International Balloon Fiesta is Europe’s largest annual meeting of hot air balloons, attracting over 130 Hot Air Balloons from across the world. Tens of thousands of visitors from across the country and beyond come to celebrate this spectacular event. It is celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2018 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 and also shows and entertainment, fairground rides, food stalls and 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. For it’s 40th Anniversary some of the most iconic shapes will be returning to mark this huge milestone. These include favourites like Superbike, the Michelin Man, a special huge birthday cake shaped balloon, a pair of Bertie Bassett’s.
TRAVEL AND PARKING
This is a fun family event and entry to the Fiesta is free, but parking is charged at £10 + booking fee per car and needs to be booked in advance. http://www.bristolballoonfiesta.co.uk/visitor-information/tickets-and-parking/ Anyone turning up without a pre-booked ticket will be turned away. Last entry to the Fiesta car park is 5pm 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.
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.
Bus services will be operation from Bristol Temple Meads and The Centre (St Augustine’s Parade) during all four days, running ever 10 minutes from 10am until the Fiesta closes. Payment can be made on the bus, tickets are £3 for adults, £2 for concessions or £5 for day returns for adults and £3 for concessions.
Ashton Court Estate, Long Ashton, Bristol, BS41 9JN – 45-minute walk from the city centre.
A must-see attraction
We stayed for the whole weekend at the Balloon Fiesta and camped in the nearby temporary campsite. This is just walking distance to the main arena. The balloons are just fantastic, and (weather permitting) fly in the morning and the evening. Thursday and Saturday evening they also had the “Night Glow” of static balloons lit up to music and a spectacular firework display. Lots of things to see also like stunt flights, wing walkers, parachute etc. The arena is very large and has trade stands galore, mostly craft type or food outlets. Two bandstands with live music was also a bonus.
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