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Hot air balloon festivals

Up until the recent austerity years there was a major balloon festival every weekend from the middle of July through August. To us balloonists this was known as The Circuit allowing our customers Brands to be seen by millions of people. These events were run by local Councils and with cut backs have largely disappeared.

Despite this the Bristol Balloon Festival continues a pace. The now privately run Northampton Festival afforded enough television air time and column inches in local paper to justify one of our customers entire hot air balloon investment in just three days. Even without the subsequent activities and exposure.

There are still opportunities at local events like the Newbury Show to expose significant crowds to hot air balloon advertising. And organisers of any major event invariably welcome something a bit different. We flew from the Great Dorset Steam Festival on this basis.

If you are reading this with a general interest in ballooning and want to attend a Festival its first worth noting a few basic facts.Before you set out its probably worth noting a few basic facts. Balloons fly about an hour after sunrise and two to three hours before sunset. Unlike glider pilots, balloonists do not enjoy thermals, they tend to make a lottery of height control. So do not turn up at midday unless you are prepared to enjoy the other attractions for the entire afternoon. Balloons can be tethered during the day but this may not hold your attention for six hours or more.

If you want to know when sunrise and sunset occur just Google it. While you are there, check the weather. Balloons do not fly in rain or winds faster then 15 mph. But don not be too pesimistic. Wind speeds drop towards sunset, we can fly below clouds and some balloonists may fly between rain showers.

Do not contact the event organiser to check information. Chances are, if its close to the event the organiser will be on-site anyway and the skeleton staff left back at base will probably have more than enough to deal with already.

Bristol Balloon Festival. Fly from Ashton Court Manor Estate, Long Ashton. Balloons gather for launch at 6:00 am and 6:00 pm. The police estimate that 500,000 spectators attend this festival but there is adequate parking if you are coming from outside of the town www.bristolfiesta.co.uk

Northampton Balloon Festival. Now held at Billing Aquadrome the waterworld leisure park. www.thenorthamptonballoonfestival.co.uk

Northampton balloon frestival

Flight from Northampton Balloon Festival

Leeds Castle Kent Festival

Leeds Castle in Kent with the Bentleys has restarted this year and I suspect will grow again

Bristol balloon Festival

Bristol Balloon Festival is the biggest event in the UK

Bristol night glow

If you see a Night Glow advertised they are usually worth attending with balloons, music and fireworks making it an exciting evening for the kids

Bristol mass launch

Bristol has to be seen to be believed