The Wandering Darlings- Bristol Balloon Fiesta

Ballooning In Bristol- Why you need to visit Bristol

The Wandering Darlings- Bristol Balloon FiestaI’ve long loved a hot air balloon. Floating through the sky, slowly gliding and following the wind as it blows.  Pretty damn magical.

When I saw the film UP it showed that sense of adventure teamed with a few thousand balloons. I didn’t exactly run out and buy a few hundred canisters of helium and loosened the footings on my house but I did always have a romantic notion that you could get to travel to far off lands in a wicker basket and some hot air.

The Wandering Darlings- Bristol Balloon Fiesta
So with that in mind, one of the best thing about moving to the West Country was that in Bristol every year in August they hold the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta. 4 days of ballooning fun and the city becomes like a picture perfect postcard.  Bristol is synonymous with balloons just like it is with Banksy, Ribena, Aardman Animations and Isambard Brunel. Creativity and Engineering greats!

Bristol is located in the South West of England and is a beautiful and colourful city. It has its own culture which I’ve not like I’ve ever seen anywhere it else. Bristol loves everything and everyone and has a small town feel but in big city scope. It’s only an hour and a half away from London by train and once you get off at Temple Meads everything you could need is literally a walk away. The harbour, the history, the street art, the parks, the bars and the shopping it makes it an ideal destination for all.

I’ve heard recently that Bristol produces more hot air balloons than anywhere else in the world so it seems only fitting that it is also home to one of the largest hot air balloon events in Europe. I mean Cameron Balloons has been based in Bristol since 1971 and the main man behind Cameron’s Balloon, Don Cameroon developed the first hot air balloon and aptly called it the Bristol Belle.  Cameron Balloons are said to be the largest maker of hot balloons within the world and have been pushing boundaries ever since by focusing on creating new and creative ways to travel through the sky be it with funny shapes to more technical features of aerodynamics.

The Wandering Darlings- Bristol Balloon Fiesta
Cameron Balloons

The Bristol International Balloon Fiesta was first started in 1979 and is always located at the Ashton Court Estate. The timings have changed over the years and it is now always in August and runs over 4 days. As with anything in England you can never rely on the weather, however, August is generally a more favourable month with less rain and wind. The best part of the fiesta is that is a free event. Yes, you heard right FREE. Sure you have to pay for parking and for any food and drinks but you can attend completely for free. Trust me Bristol does love a free festival (you should come in July for the Harbour Festival- yep you guessed it also FREE)

The Wandering Darlings- Bristol Balloon Fiesta
Every day during the fiesta there is a mass ascent in the morning and again in the evening.  These mass ascents can include over 130 balloons all taking flight at the same time. Depending on the wind sometimes this can take the balloons right over the city centre. Night glows are on the Thursday and Saturday nights when the balloons are tethered and lit up dancing to the music also. There is also usually a firework display after the night glow on saturday.  There is also festival feel at Long Ashton with fairground rides, food stalls and a whole lotta balloons.

Over the years there has been all sorted of balloons. All the colours of the rainbow and also lots of creative shapes from a Sky Whale, a minion, a kiwi bird, the house from Up to a Bertie Bassett.

The Wandering Darlings- Bristol Balloon Fiesta
Balloons and the Clifton Suspension Bridge

This year was the first time,  in the 11 years that I got my butt out of bed at the crack of dawn (5 am!) to go and watch to the morning ascent. My gosh was it a good decision.

We opted to watch from the Observatory in Clifton. This way we had balloons, Bristol and the Clifton Suspension Bridge all in our eye line. A few 100 people had the same idea. Some in their PJs, some hadn’t made it home from their Saturday night yet, breakfast picnics, balloon inspired sweaters and mugs of tea. All there to just watch some balloons. And when I say a ‘some’ balloons I mean like at least 100 balloons.

The Wandering Darlings- Bristol Balloon Fiesta
Calming, simple fight but with such beauty

It was a beautiful way to spend a Sunday morning. We’ve previously watched the night ascent from another vantage point in the city. On Bedminster Downs, you have the perfect view of the festival and can see the balloons being inflated and ready to launch. There are lots of grassy areas where you can sit and have a picnic and in recent years food trucks have also been showing up there so you don’t even need to bring your own.

The Wandering Darlings- Bristol Balloon Fiesta
Obvs our favourite one was the Thatchers Balloon

No matter whether you watch the fiesta from the higher vantage points of the city to low on the ground at the fiesta it is well worth treating yourself to a trip to Bristol in August just to witness this truly spectacular display.

Bristol is a great city to visit and even outside of this festival. Surprisingly I’ve not blogged too much about my home away from home (which I will rectify) however in the meantime if you want to read some more reasons to visit Bristol check out the blogs and websites below.

The Wandering Darlings- Bristol Balloon FiestaThe Wandering Darlings- Bristol Balloon FiestaThe Wandering Darlings- Bristol Balloon FiestaThe Wandering Darlings- Bristol Balloon Fiesta

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The Wandering Darlings- Bristol Balloon Fiesta

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49 thoughts on “Ballooning In Bristol- Why you need to visit Bristol”

  1. Ah me..
    Swoon. I met my wife at uni in bristol in the 70s my daughter’s just graduated from vet school there and i love the place… and yet I’ve never done the balloon festival. If i didnt love London so much I’d move to Clifton in a heartbeat.. Thanks for the reminder

  2. That looks amazing! I’ve been to Bristol a couple of times and loved it. I like the fact that there’s lots of independent places to eat (I’m food obsessed!). It’s so nice to eat somewhere new rather chain restaurants all the time. And as for the film “UP”, I cry like a baby at the first sequence, every time!

    1. Food is bristol is soooo good!! Always new places popping up I’ve still
      Got so many places I want to try on my list. I’m with you on the tears for UP. Such a beautifully touching opening sequence.

  3. This is VERY cool- I’ve been on a hot air balloon ride but I’ve never watched them. There’s something other-worldly and beautiful about seeing all of them together. Although I found you get quite hot up in the balloon, it is a wonderful way to travel!! Thank you for sharing!!

  4. What a wonderful festival! I never knew about it before but as Bristol is pretty close to me I shall be attending next year for sure. Hats off to you for getting up for the morning ‘display’ although the views definitely seem to be worth it 🙂

  5. I have a lovely picture of the hot air balloons taken a number of years ago..they are a sight to behold 🙂 Thank you for reigniting this memory 🙂

      1. Yes, they really do and my picture holds such special memories of two people who are no longer with me but very much loved and it has travelled around the world with me 🙂 A memory a memory I hold very dear and your post refreshed that memory for me and bought it to life again …So thank you 🙂

  6. I love the movie UP and I have always wanted to go hot air ballooning. Wish there was a festival here because this looks so fun and great photos!!

  7. Can’t get enough of your photos! Would like to attend a similar event. Actually, I tried but the massive ascension was canceled because the president of the United States was in the area. He ruined it for me (after I drove like 100 miles).

  8. I’ve been to Bristol and see the Clifton Suspension Bridge, but that pic of the balloons above it makes it look even better

  9. What a beautiful post! And how awesome that our latest posts go hand in hand! I would love to watch or even ride in a balloon in Bristol. Looks like it was the perfect way to spend a Sunday morning, just like you said!

  10. This post makes me happy. I adore balloons and I have always wanted to go to this. I live near to Bristol so its just laziness stopping me from going. I need to get my butt off the sofa next year! Your photos are AMAZING!

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