Bristol Balloon Fiesta

Balloons over Bristol, (photo by James Macdonald)
Balloons over Bristol

The city of Bristol plays host to the International Balloon Fiesta every year. 

Bristol and Bath

The cities of Bristol and Bath sit a little distance apart amidst the shallow hills of the southwest of England, nearing the border with Wales.  Both are steeped in history; Bristol for its sea trading and industrial heritage and Bath for its Roman bathhouses and Georgian architecture. Less than two hours by car or express train from London, both cities are fascinating destinations and make perfect bases for exploring the sights of southwest England.    

Looking to the skies on a calm morning or evening can reveal that this green and welcoming region can quite rightly claim to be the national centre for hot-air-ballooning. 



One reason may be the presence of a balloon manufacturer, sited in the Bedminster area of Bristol since the 1983. Cameron Balloons sell their colourful handiwork across the globe and specialise in the manufacture of strange and unusually shaped balloons. Chateaux, dinosaurs, bears and trousers the size of blocks of flats have all been sewn together in their factory. Once built, they may be inflated for the first time in the grounds of Ashton Court, a stately home built in 1633.

In the grounds of this mansion this weekend you can experience something rather magical, the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta. Hundreds of balloons will gradually take to the skies over the city in an enormous mass take-off every morning and evening. The festival also features funfairs, parachute and Spitfire displays, fireworks, refreshments and many stalls and stands.  

The event is completely free, aside from parking charges.

The best bet is to get there early in the morning - it will be less busy than in the evening and it leaves the rest of your day free to explore the festival or wander across the magnificent Clifton Suspension Bridge to Clifton, a wonderful little suburb tucked away above Bristol city centre. Balloons will rise from 6am and then again from around 6pm. If you are a keen photographer then try and make it to one of the 'night glow' events, at 9pm. In the semi-darkness the balloons are lit up from inside and their livery vibrantly glows.  

If you don't fancy the crowds in the park then just position yourself downwind of the site and the balloons will come to you.



Bath also sees balloon launches most calm mornings and evenings, some even rise from Royal Victoria Park beside the Royal Crescent. If you are able to book a flight, it is well worth it; it is a wonderful experience drifting across the rooftops of the Unesco listed town and out into the beautiful surrounding Mendip countryside. 

For more information on things to do in Bath and Bristol look to our Great Breaks guide to Bath: a collection of tours, tips, feature articles and advice. 

Remember - hot-air-ballooning is dependent upon the weather. If it's too windy, raining or misty then the balloons will remain tucked away in their bags.



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