With the 39th Bristol International Balloon Fiesta now upon us, here are ten hot air balloons to look out for as they take off from the rolling hills of Ashton Court from this weekend.
From brand new balloons to special shapes and world firsts over 130 hot air balloons are registered to attend Europe’s largest hot air ballooning event this week to put on a magical show for the hundreds of thousands of expected visitors.
Making its debut at the Balloon Fiesta this week will be the brand new Thatchers hot air balloon. Thatchers have been the official cider partner for the event for several years and this year have taken their love of ballooning to a new level with this yellow and green balloon, emblazoned with the Somerset company’s strapline, ‘what ciders supposed to taste like.’ Throughout the week keep an eye on the Thatcher’s social media channels for you chance to win a flight in the brand new hot air balloon.
Another addition to this year’s Fiesta is the brand new special shape Belvoir juice drop. With its truly unique shape, you can’t miss this giant yellow drop of Belvoir in the sky.
Commemorating the friendship formed between two young people with cancer, and the charity that supported them will see the launch of the ‘Spirit of Jess’ balloon launch at the Fiesta this week. James Burrows and Jess Thomas were treated on the Teenage Cancer Trust unit at Bristol Haematology and Oncology Centre in early 2015, the two immediately made a strong connection and became firm friends. Jess relapsed in early 2016 and sadly passed away. Her memory has been kept alive by friends and family raising thousands for charity through various events, and James and his father Paul, founder of Bristol balloon company, Lighter Than Air have created the balloon to dedicate it to Jess’s memory and Teenage Cancer Trust.
The world’s very first solar-hybrid hot air balloon launched at the Fiesta in 2015 and this year will return carrying the Bristol Energy logo to celebrate the energy company’s partnership with the iconic event. Made of light weight polyurethane coated nylon, the black side of the balloon attracts heat from the sun to make the air inside of the balloon envelope much hotter than the ambient temperature – the silver side of the balloon then prevents that heat from escaping. The balloon is fitted with propane burners, just in case the sun disappears mid-flight, which is what makes it a solar-hybrid.
Returning to the Fiesta this year is family favourite, the special shape Minion hot air balloon. In celebration of the latest film, Despicable Me 3, the giant 6 metre tall Stuart will don a brand new outfit, redressed in prison overalls for 2017.
The Stowell’s Wine Box special shape will also return to the Fiesta this year, this flying wine box is so big it could house the equivalent of 100,000 real boxes on wine, that equals 24 million glasses of wine, about 50 per citizen of Bristol!
Joining the Fiesta from the British Balloon Museum and Library (BBML) will be the Maxwell House Flying Coffee Jar. The special shape balloon is one of two identical Maxwell Coffee jar balloons that were registered in July 1993. They joined the BBML fleet and the balloon remains a fully certified flyable hot air balloon.
Another balloon attending the Fiesta from the British Balloon Museum and Library is Mr. Peanut Man. The balloon in the shape of a peanut with top hat, monocle and arms, one carrying a walking stick was first built in Bristol at Cameron Balloons in 1981.
Quickly becoming a Fiesta favourite, Simbaloo the Longleat Lion will return again this year after making his debut appearance in last year.
Who says balloons have to be round? The giant red Ricoh cube was built in 2012 and is a Fiesta favourite with its bright red symmetrical sides visible for miles.
Tonight sees the famous Night Glows as the hot air balloons appear as giant light bulbs, a stunning sight of 30 balloons with burners roaring bright in time to the music as night falls.
For people planning on driving to the event, car parking must be booked in advance from www.bristolballoonfiesta.co.uk/tickets. Those with car parking tickets must arrive at the site by 5pm on the day of entry to guarantee access to the event. Details of alternative travel and transport routes are also available on the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta website.
To find out more about this year’s event follow @BristolBalloon on Instagram and Twitter, or https://www.facebook.com/bristolinternationalballoonfiesta.
Picture courtesy of Paul Box