As the 40th Bristol International Balloon Fiesta draws to a close, we’re taking a look back at some of our highlights from the four-day ballooning extravaganza.

From 40 spectacular special shape balloons to an epic night glow display set to favourites from The Greatest Showman soundtrack, the weather failed to dampen the fun even when it did ground the balloons.

Blast From The Past

The famous Virgin 747 Jumbo special shape balloon returned to Bristol Balloon Fiesta to mark its 40th event.

We’re told it first took to the skies all the way back in 1986, and while no longer air-worthy for flight, it was inflated and tethered in the arena for crowds to enjoy on the Saturday.

One of a pair of Virgin 747 Jumbo balloons, there’s a rumour she was once flown by our very own Virgin Balloon Flights pilot Graham Dorrell back in the day.

The balloon was one of 40 special shapes booked to attend Bristol Balloon Fiesta to help mark its milestone year.

Hot Air Balloon Proposal

Love was in the air during the only mass ascent of the weekend when Kristy and Dean got engaged 1,000 feet up in our big red balloon.

The couple travelled all the way from Swansea for the balloon festival,

“I booked it to propose, and we were just so unbelievably lucky to fly, as the pilot said we were probably on the only flight that would go ahead that weekend,” said Dean.

“Kristy has always mentioned she wanted to do it, so I asked her if she wanted to do it this year.

“But she didn’t know I was going to propose.

“The pilot was brilliant, and all the others on there made it even better when he said, ‘They’ve just got engaged.’

“I didn’t know he’d videoed it until he said after and that he would send it to me. It was really cool and something we’ll always remember.”

We’d say asking someone to marry you on a flight from Bristol Balloon Fiesta might just be one of the most memorable proposals ever.

Hot Air Balloon Special Guests

We invited hot air balloon photography enthusiast Richard Cardy to join us for the Saturday morning mass ascent.

Richard took an iconic photo of four beautiful big red Virgin balloons launching at our very first Bristol International Balloon Fiesta back in 1995.

He flew with us on the day 23 years ago, so what better way for us to celebrate the Fiesta’s 40th anniversary than by asking him to fly with us again?

This time around, he took his young son Charlie with him for the only mass ascent flight of the entire weekend.

He also took some fabulous photographs, several of which we’ve used in this blog.

“It was a fantastic morning – a big thank you to all the Virgin Balloon Flights team,” he said.

Old Favourites Returned

Some of the special shapes that returned to this year’s Bristol International Balloon Fiesta came out of ‘retirement’, especially for the event.

Rupert The Bear, two Bertie Basset balloons, Mr Wonderfuel, the Michelin Man, Barclay’s House, and the giant birthday cake-shaped Wishcake were just some of the highlights tethered for large crowds.

The giant Lindstrom Superbike, Buster the Bulldog, and the Chubb fire extinguisher did launch as part of the mass ascent on Saturday morning.

Bristol Balloons And Birthday Cake

Ever since we first launched as a passenger balloon rides company back in 1994, our Virgin balloons have been a regular fixture at Bristol Balloon Fiesta.

So we just had to take along a large birthday cake for the Fiesta committee as a thank you for inviting us all these years.

The lovely Teresa Witchell and Phil McShane (and his adorable baby boy Freddie!) accepted our cake on behalf of the Balloon Management Team and Bristol Balloon Fiesta committee.

And given how quickly it was devoured, it’s safe to say that balloonists really do love cake!

Bring On Bristol Balloon Fiesta 2019

We already can’t wait for the next Bristol Balloon Fiesta in 2019.

Want to fly from this fantastic Bristol balloon festival next year?

Register your details through this form on our Bristol Balloon Fiesta, and we’ll get in touch with you next year

Did you go to this year’s 40th Bristol International Balloon Fiesta?

If so, let us know your highlights in the comments below!