Almost two weeks ago my boyfriend and I went to Bristol’s annual International Balloon Fiesta at Ashton Court. It was my first time at the festival, a free event that has been running since back in 1979, so I didn’t know what to expect. Teams from all over the UK and other parts of the world turn up to show off their hot air balloons. There were wonderful novelty hot air balloons; penguins, minions and even an ‘Up’ inspired balloon which was my favourite, unfortunately I didn’t get a photo of that one as I was staring at the sky in awe!
My alarm went off at 5 am, which is probably the earliest I’ve woken up on a Saturday in a long while, but the thought of missing the mass ascension definitely got me up. The ascent began at 6 am, but we got a little bit lost on the way (the satnav directed us to a balloon shop…) so we arrived nearly half an hour late. Luckily the weather was perfect, which is a rare sight in the UK but it was SO crowded, apparently over 100,000 people turn up on each of the four days so there was limited space to move.
We watched the colourful hot air balloons drift off into the sky with a coffee in hand which was quite dreamlike and the perfect way to spend a Saturday morning. Ashton Court was filled with food stands, ice cream vans and retro fairground rides, which made for some pretty photos. There was another mass ascent at 6 pm, along with a nightglow and firework display, but we didn’t stick around long enough to witness it – hopefully next August.
My first experience of the festival gave me some ideas for what to bring next time. My advice is to bring your own flask of tea/coffee, snacks, and a blanket so you can relax on the field and watch the balloons in comfort (from experience, sitting on damp grass isn’t recommended!) So if you have the chance to, I’d definitely recommend attending the balloon fiesta!