PREVIEW: International balloon fiesta returns to North Somerset

PUBLISHED: 16:00 05 August 2019

The Bristol International Balloon Fiesta attracts thousands of visitors every year.Picture: George Bladon

The Bristol International Balloon Fiesta attracts thousands of visitors every year.Picture: George Bladon

Copyrighted 2011 - George Bladon/nrgsportspix.com

Bristol International Balloon Fiesta will attract thousands of visitors to North Somerset this week - with an amazing array of creations to take to the skies above North Somerset.

The Bristol International Balloon Fiesta attracts thousands of visitors every year.Picture: Adam GassonThe Bristol International Balloon Fiesta attracts thousands of visitors every year.Picture: Adam Gasson

The festival is due to celebrate its 41st anniversary at Ashton Court, and organisers have revealed Icons Of Bristol is this year's theme of choice.

Around 130 hot air balloons are set to feature at the four-day event, which will be kicked-off with its special shapes launch.

The show's annual nightglow, which illuminates Ashton Court's sky, will also be held, including a spectacular firework finale at the end of the fiesta.

This event will showcase Cameron Balloons' Darth Vader entry, which is yet to make its debut in Britain - having previously appeared in Australia, the United States, China and Malaysia.

Bristol International Balloon Fiestas mass evening balloon ascent.Picture: Ian JohnsonBristol International Balloon Fiestas mass evening balloon ascent.Picture: Ian Johnson

The number of family activities available to visitors will increase this year, including aerial and model aircraft displays, fairground rides, balloon tethering and demonstrations.

There will also be food stalls and bars, as well as live music played throughout the festival.

The extravaganza has also teamed-up with Aerospace Bristol in celebration of Wallace and Gromit's 30th anniversary, created by Concorde and Aardman Animations.

The fiesta has Europe's largest annual gathering of hot-air balloons, and has been labelled one of the UK's top-five outdoor events.

The show launched a crowd-funding campaign, raised £10,000 to help bring the Star Wars-themed balloon to the event.

Organisers raise around £750,000 annually to run the extravaganza, which is led by a committee of volunteers.

People who supported the cause had the chance to win hot air balloon flights, a night-glow-crew experience and more.

The extravaganza thanked its sponsors and volunteers, which said it 'couldn't run the festival' without them.

Ashton Court's balloon fiesta will take place at the venue in Long Ashton from Thursday until Sunday.

The festival runs from 12-10.30pm today (Thursday), 6am-8.30pm Friday, 6am-10.30pm Saturday and 6am-8pm Sunday.

The eagerly-anticipated event is free to enter.

Car parking tickets, priced £11.79-£27.69, are available at www.bristolballoonfiesta.co.uk

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