Bristol Balloon Fiesta – Our guide to Bristol Balloon Fiesta
Bristol Balloon Fiesta Hero

Bristol Balloon Fiesta - Guide to Bristol International Balloon Fiesta

It always comes to that classic question; which came first, Bristol or the hot air balloons?  Welcome to our guide to  the famous Bristol Balloon Fiesta, all you need to know.

Ok, so it might not be quite so well known as that chicken and egg one, but Bristol and hot air balloons do go hand in hand, with many an iconic Bristol scene being photographed with hot air balloons floating on by.

This perfect photo opportunity will be back in Bristol in August, with over 130 balloons set to take to the skies across the four-day festival, a great Spectacle if you are visiting for a Hen Weekend, or Stag do.  The Bristol Balloon fiesta has stayed true to its vision 29 years ago, to provide a free show for the public, funded by local corporate sponsorship.

With just 27 balloons in the first year of the Bristol Balloon Fiesta, hot air balloons now being synonymous with the Bristol skyline and it being Europe’s largest meeting of hot air balloons is an impressive feat.

(Please note the absence of predictable puns about numbers rising, people being blown away by the festival or it receiving glowing reports – it was hard to resist…well I nearly did it!)

Not all hot air - our guide to the Bristol Balloon Fiesta

The Fiesta’s first day opens at midday with Hot Air Balloons tethering through the afternoon.  As we reach 6pm, our pilots are briefed on the weather for the first mass ascent of the Fiesta. At 9pm as dusk sets 25 of our hot air balloons turn into huge lights bulbs, glowing in time to our specially commissioned soundtrack, ‘Bristol’s Glowing’.  Our evening finishes with a fantastic firework finale

12:00 FIESTA OPENS BALLOON TETHERING – LAUNCH FIELD
18:00 MASS HOT AIR BALLOON LIFT
21:00 NIGHTGLOW AND FIREWORK FINALE
22:30 FIESTA CLOSES

The Fiesta’s second day includes two mass hot air balloon lifts and an afternoon of Balloon Tethering.

06:00 FIESTA OPENS AND MASS HOT AIR BALLOON LIFT
08:00 MODEL HOT AIR BALLOON COMPETITIONS
12:00 HOT AIR BALLOON TETHERING
18:00 MASS HOT AIR BALLOON LIFT
20:30 FIESTA CLOSES

The Fiesta’s third day includes more mass hot air balloon lifts and our infamous nightglow and firework finale.

06:00 FIESTA OPENS AND MASS HOT AIR BALLOON LIFT IN ASSOCIATION WITH CLASSIC FM
08:00 MODEL HOT AIR BALLOON COMPETITIONS
12:00 – 17:30 ARENA ENTERTAINMENT, INCLUDING…
18:00 MASS HOT AIR BALLOON LIFT
21:00 NIGHTGLOW AND FIREWORK FINALE
22.30 FIESTA CLOSES

The Fiesta’s final day includes more mass hot air balloon lifts and model hot air balloon competitions.

06:00 FIESTA OPENS AND MASS HOT AIR BALLOON LIFT IN ASSOCIATION WITH CLASSIC FM
08:00 MODEL HOT AIR BALLOON COMPETITIONS
12:00 – 17:30 ARENA ENTERTAINMENT, INCLUDING
18:00 MASS HOT AIR BALLOON LIFT
20:30 FIESTA CLOSES

Bristol Balloon Fiesta Night Glow

Balloons Everywhere...

One of the most unique things about The Bristol Balloon Fiesta is that you can enjoy it without even having to turn up.

This is where all the hills in Bristol are a real bonus, as the city boasts some prime spots with amazing views of the balloons and as you guessed it, being high up is the best place to be. At this time of year, you’ll see large groups of people out in the evenings in open, high, green spaces, and those people will all be in the know.

Rather than waiting for you to stumble across these groups of people to find out where you should be to get the best views of the balloons, now is the time to divulge. Not only do you get to check out a sky full of balloons, but it gives you the chance to really appreciate the incredible views over our beautiful city.

Whether you’re in North or South Bristol we have some great balloon spotting sites for you.

To get the best view of the hot air balloons you’re slightly at the mercy of the wind direction, but the places we have identified are reliable for seeing them when they go up from the Bristol Balloon Fiesta at Ashton Court.

Bristol Balloon Fiesta UK

Where to see the balloons outside of the fiesta

In South Bristol, there are two great places, firstly, Bedminster Down. The evidence of this, even before the balloons go up, is the amount of people there.

There are so many people that burger vans often rock up to cash in on the opportunity.

Bedminster Down has a view over Ashton Court so whatever the wind direction you’ll always be able to see the hot air balloons.

As the next one is my local balloon viewing spot I feel a little reluctant to share it far and wide but here goes…Perrett Park.

There, I’ve done it. The park is a natural amphitheatre and faces towards the Bristol Balloon Fiesta so is a great place to be. With a playground there too and people cracking out the barbies, it has a real family feel and always has a great atmosphere as people await the first glimpse.

Balloon Fiesta Bristol

Seeing so many hot air balloons is incredible

Time to head over the river for the classic Bristol hot air balloon view locations, both of which need no introduction or real explanation.

The Clifton Suspension Bridge and The Downs are the best spots in North Bristol and are, surprise surprise, high up and close enough to the Bristol Balloon Fiesta to guarantee a great view and even more so, an amazing photo opportunity.

Seeing so many hot air balloons is incredible but there is more to the Bristol Balloon Festival and for that you need to get yourself down to Ashton Court at all sorts of times of the day.

The Fiesta kicks off on Thursday 9th August at midday with balloons tethering through the afternoon in preparation for the first mass ascent planned for 6pm.

That’s not it for the day though. As dusk sets, tethered hot air balloons light up in time to music followed by fireworks. That’s just day one!! If you miss the night glow on Thursday night, you get the chance to see it and the fireworks again on Saturday night.

Bristol Balloon Fiesta Night Glow Balloon

It's all about timing

If early mornings are your thing, or even if they’re not, you should take the chance to join some early birds huddled up with their bacon sandwiches watching the 6am mass ascent.

Not only is it the perfect chance to see an amazing sight of all of the balloons in the relative peace of the early morning but there’s always a feeling of solidarity and achievement when there’s a bunch of you who have all made it out at a time when you would otherwise be snoozing away.

Whatever time you get yourself to Ashton Court the Bristol Balloon Festival will not disappoint as there is plenty of entertainment and activities on site as well as with the sights.

Although the Fiesta itself is free, if you want to check it out, your transport will definitely need some planning as some roads will be closed and the parking there will need to be pre-booked.

International Bristol Balloon Fiesta

Our top tips

I have one more option here for you which combines the excitement of being at the Bristol Balloon Fiesta itself and the incredible views of the huge number of balloons soaring over Bristol.

Why not take to the air and go up in one of the balloons. This might not be the cheapest of options but would be an amazing opportunity to get an up close and personal view.

However you choose to be a part of this key date in Bristol’s calendar, you can be sure that it will be impressive and that you won’t be alone. The Bristol Balloon Fiesta always captures the imagination of the city and brings people together for four days of anticipation and enjoyment.

For more information, why not visit the official Bristol Balloon Fiesta website.

Sorry, comments are closed for this post.