multiple hot air balloons against a blue sky

The Ultimate Guide to Bristol Balloon Fiesta

Everything You Need To Know About the Bristol Balloon Festival

Reading Time - 10 minutes

Experience the remarkable world of hot air ballooning at the UK’s largest and most exciting Hot Air Balloon Fiesta! For those of you who have never been to a hot air balloon fiesta, prepare to be dazzled by the vibrant spectacle of hundreds of balloons filling the sky. This event isn't just about watching balloons ascend; it's an immersive experience that offers everything from thrilling competitions to evening glows, interactive displays, and family-friendly activities. Whether you're a seasoned balloonist or experiencing the magic for the first time, the festival's vibrant atmosphere and breathtaking aerial displays guarantee an adventure you'll never forget.

Key Takeaways

  • Find out about convenient parking, accessible facilities, and easy transportation options.

  • Learn how to take part in the mass balloon ascents

  • Explore exclusive Sky Lounge tickets for a premium festival experience.

History of Bristol Balloon Fiesta

The Bristol Balloon Fiesta first took flight in 1979, and since then, it has grown to become the UK's most celebrated hot air balloon festival. Started by local balloon expert Don Cameron and the Bristol Junior Chamber, this small gathering has transformed into a spectacular event, attracting over 130 balloons from all corners of the globe. Held at the picturesque Ashton Court Estate, the fiesta has become a staple of Bristol's summer events, drawing huge crowds who gather to watch the sky burst into life with vibrant colours. It’s a fantastic way to spend a summer day, whether you’re a balloon enthusiast or just looking for a unique experience to share with family and friends.

When is Bristol Balloon Fiesta?

The Bristol Balloon Fiesta is scheduled to take place from the 9th to the 11th of August 2024. Mark your calendars for this spectacular three-day event that fills the skies of Bristol with vibrant hot air balloons and offers a host of exciting activities for all ages.

Booking Tickets For Bristol Balloon Fiesta

The Bristol Balloon Fiesta is a dazzling three day event that’s free for all to enjoy, making it a wonderful opportunity for everyone to experience the magic of hot air balloons. While the event offers no-cost access, those looking to enhance their experience can opt for one of the luxury packages available. These exclusive Sky Lounge tickets provide perks like prime viewing areas, gourmet catering, and other premium features, perfect for making your visit to the fiesta even more memorable. Whether you choose the free entry or treat yourself to a luxury package, you’re sure to have an unforgettable time at the UK’s top hot air balloon festival.

Booking the Sky Lounge at Bristol Balloon Fiesta

The Sky Lounge is a private area offering the best viewing seats at the festival. Not only do tickets to the Sky Lounge provide you with unparalleled views of the vibrant balloon ascents, but they also include access to complimentary Wi-Fi, private toilets, and an exclusive bar. Guests can enjoy a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere away from the crowds, ensuring a premium experience with all the conveniences needed to fully immerse themselves in the Bristol Balloon Fiesta.

The Sky Lounge at the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta offers three ticket options, each tailored to provide a unique viewing experience and exclusive amenities throughout the day.

Morning Access (05:45 - 09:30)

Perfect for early risers, this option allows you to watch the mesmerising 6am balloon launch. It includes a breakfast pastry and soft drink, with children's games to keep younger guests entertained.

Day Access (10:00 - 19:00)

Enjoy the entire day in comfort with access to the Sky Lounge, culminating in the spectacular 6 pm mass ascent. This option continues to offer children’s games and arts and crafts until 6pm, making it ideal for families.

Evening Access (19:30 - 23:00)

Positioned next to the arena with a clear view of the launch field, the evening ticket is your VIP pass to the legendary Nightglow performance. Included in this ticket is a complimentary drink and post Night glow entertainment available until 23:00.

Virgin hot air balloon flying over bristol

Booking Car Parking at Bristol Balloon Festival

If you’re driving to the Bristol Balloon Fiesta, you will need to make sure you’ve booked car parking tickets beforehand.

If you’re driving to the Bristol Balloon Fiesta, you will need to make sure you’ve booked car parking tickets beforehand as they are not available to purchase on the gate. With four different car parks tailored to meet various needs, planning your parking in advance is essential.

Blue Car Park

This is the closest option, located adjacent to the fiesta site and just a short walk to the arena. It opens at 5am for the morning launches, with tickets valid all day. Remember, the last entry is at 5pm.

Prices are £16.00 for the first release, £22.50 for the second, and £27.00 for the final release.

Red Car Park

As the main car park, it opens later at 10 am and is not suitable if you're attending the morning launch. Like the Blue Car Park, its last entry is at 5 pm.

Pricing starts at £10.00, rising to £16.00 and £20.00 across releases.

Motorbike Car Park

Located near the fiesta site, this option also opens at 5 am and offers a short walk to the arena, remaining open all day with the last entry at 5 pm.

Prices are £10.00, £12.50, and £20.00 through the releases.

Accessible Car Park

Offering the fastest access to our launch field, this area requires a Disabled Blue Badge Parking Permit. It opens at 5am and is available throughout the day.

The prices are the same as the Red Car Park: £10.00, £16.00, and £20.00.

Select the car park that best suits your visit's timing and requirements to ensure a smooth start to your day at the fiesta.

tethered hot air balloons in row, lit up with their burners

Booking a Hot Air Balloon Ride From the Fiesta

If you’d like to join in the excitement of the mass ascents at Bristol Balloon Fiesta, Virgin Balloon Flights are offering sunrise and sunset hot air balloon rides on Friday the 9th, Saturday the 10th and Sunday the 11th of August.

Bristol Balloon Fiesta

Take life higher at Europe's biggest hot air balloon festival and go up, up and away for a Bristol balloon ride you will never forget. Bristol International Balloon Fiesta is back for 2024 and set…

Learn more about a hot air balloon ride Bristol

A voucher purchased with Virgin Balloon Flights for Bristol Balloon Fiesta aren't just limited to the festival itself. They're actually valid nationwide and can be used throughout our flying season, which runs from March to October.

Hoping to take flight over Bristol? You'll get to experience the thrill of hot air ballooning from Ashton Court, the very same location where the Balloon Fiesta takes place, making it an unforgettable adventure any time of the hot air ballooning season.

Ashton Court (Bristol)

Home to the world famous Bristol Balloon Fiesta, Ashton Court could well lay claim to the title of ‘hot…

Learn more about a hot air balloon ride Bristol

Hot Air Ballooning and The Weather

As a highly weather-dependent activity, the weather conditions for a hot air balloon ride have to be just right to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. Low wind speeds are crucial; our pilots seek surface winds of less than 10 mph. It’s important to note, however, that wind conditions up to 5000ft may differ significantly from those on the ground. Wind direction is also key, as we aim to avoid the balloon being pulled erratically in different directions, which is why we have backup sites to accommodate varying weather patterns.

Rain can dampen the experience, making flights miserable and cooling the balloon, thus requiring more heat to maintain altitude. Additionally, frequent rain can make the ground soggy, complicating takeoffs and landings. Our pilots make flight decisions based on years of experience and the latest weather forecasts, prioritising your safety above all.

At the Bristol Balloon Fiesta, we always hope for perfect ballooning weather, but safety is our top priority. In the event that your flight is cancelled due to unsuitable weather conditions, rest assured that your adventure isn't over. You will be able to use your vouchers to book another flight at any of our nationwide launch sites, giving you another chance to take to the skies on a clearer day.

How to Get to Bristol Balloon Fiesta

The Bristol International Balloon Fiesta is held annually at Ashton Court Estate in Bristol City Centre. Here's how you can reach this iconic event:

By Car

To drive to the fiesta, follow the clear signage from all main routes into Bristol, which will direct you to the appropriate car parks. Ensure you have your print-at-home ticket, which includes directions. Remember, car park tickets must be purchased in advance, allow only single entry, and are non-refundable, even if balloon events are cancelled due to weather.

By Train

Bristol Temple Meads is the nearest train station to the fiesta. Upon arrival, you have the option of catching a shuttle bus or taking a taxi directly to the event, both convenient ways to reach the festivities.

By Shuttle Bus

A dedicated shuttle bus service runs directly from Bristol City Centre to the fiesta site, offering a straightforward and hassle-free option for attendees.

By Foot

For those looking to walk, there are two primary pedestrian routes from the city centre to the fiesta. You can take Festival Way or pass through the historic Clifton Suspension Bridge. Festival Way, also known as Route 33 on the Cycle Route Network, provides a scenic walk from the city centre to the event site.

two girls looking out of a hot air balloon basket at other hot air balloons in the sky over Bristol

What Else is On at Bristol Balloon Fiesta?

Alongside the mass balloon ascents and epic night glow performances, there are a whole load of exciting activities taking place across the three day event!

British National Hot Air Balloon Championships

Experience the thrill of competition at this year’s Bristol Hot Air Balloon Festival, which will be hosting the finals of the British National Hot Air Balloon Championships. Scheduled from Tuesday 6 August to Sunday 11 August across the city and wider region, this prestigious competition will see approximately 15 teams participating. Teams will compete twice daily, engaging in a series of set challenges that include flying over the Fiesta site and dropping markers into the arena on the mornings of Friday 9, Saturday 10, and Sunday 11 August.

Bristol Balloon Fiesta Night Glow Performance

The Night Glow Performance is a mesmerising highlight of the Bristol Balloon Fiesta. As the sun sets, tethered balloons light up the evening sky with synchronised illuminations to the rhythm of music, creating a stunning visual spectacle. This enchanting event culminates in a dramatic fireworks display, adding an extra layer of magic to the festive atmosphere. It’s a must-see performance that captivates audiences of all ages.

Mass Hot Air Balloon Ascents

Witness the breathtaking sight of the Mass Hot Air Balloon Ascents, where scores of balloons take to the skies simultaneously. This iconic event paints the horizon with a kaleidoscope of colours and shapes, making it a highlight for photographers and festival-goers alike. The serene ascent of so many balloons offers a unique and unforgettable view, embodying the spirit of freedom and adventure that defines the Bristol Balloon Fiesta. For an even more engaging experience, consider booking a hot air balloon ride to participate in this spectacular display, where you can enjoy the scenery and excitement from a whole new perspective.

What Happens on the Day?

With a jam-packed schedule throughout the weekend, here’s a complete timetable of events at the Bristol International Balloon Festival to ensure you catch every highlight and exciting activity on offer.

Friday 9th August & Saturday 10th August

6:00 AM - Sunrise Mass Balloon Ascent (Weather Permitting)

8:00 AM - British National Ballooning Championships Fiesta Challenge

12:00 PM - Brizzle Kicks, Children’s Entertainment Stage

6:00 PM - Sunset Mass Balloon Ascent (Weather Permitting)

9:00 PM - Night Glow Performance

Sunday 11th August

6:00 AM - Sunrise Mass Balloon Ascent (Weather Permitting)

12:00 PM - Brizzle Kicks, Children’s Entertainment Stage

6:00 PM - Sunset Mass Balloon Ascent (Weather Permitting)

8:00 PM - British National Ballooning Championships Fiesta Challenge

man and daughter standing in a hot air balloon basket with views of Bristol behind them

Accessibility at Bristol Balloon Festival

The Bristol Balloon Festival is dedicated to providing accessible facilities for all attendees. There are designated disabled parking areas close to the event activities, accessible toilets, and mobility scooter hire available to ensure comfort and ease for everyone. Guide dogs are also welcome at the festival. Accessible tickets are available for viewing areas, admitting one disabled person along with one carer, ensuring a convenient and inclusive experience. Furthermore, all bar counters in public and hospitality areas are lowered to accommodate all guests, enhancing the festival's accessibility.

Testimonials From the Bristol Balloon Fiesta

Hear what our festival passengers had to say about the magic of a hot air balloon ride at the Bristol Balloon Fiesta.

“10/10 incredible experience would 100% recommend and the best pilot ever Mike is fantastic!! We flew in the morning of the Bristol Balloon Fiesta and it was the best day ever from the start seeing the balloon being inflated right until the end with a glass of champagne and receiving a certificate. Thank you!!” - Eloise

“From the start Mike and the crew (Sam & Moira) made us feel welcome and very relaxed about the trip we were going to experience. Volunteers helped when needed and before we knew it we were all in the basket and up looking over the stunning views of Bristol. Even the landing was fun, a couple of bounces and we were down and safe. Would highly recommend this to family and friends, loved every minute of it. Thanks again.” - Margaret

The Bristol Balloon Fiesta is a highlight for anyone who loves the spectacle and charm of hot air balloons. From the mass ascents that paint the sky with colour to the enchanting Night Glow that lights up the evening, this festival truly captures the spirit of Bristol as the UK's top hot air balloon festival. Whether you're watching from the ground or floating above, the fiesta offers something for everyone. And if this sparks your curiosity to see more, why not discover a hot air balloon festival near you? Immerse yourself in the enchantment of ballooning, and continue your adventure through the colourful and captivating world of hot air balloons.

Related Posts

Get your stamps ready, these flights are worth writing home about

Hot air balloons in the sky over Bristol, in a selection of different colours

2024 UK Hot Air Balloon Festival Calendar, Get ready to soar in 2024 as the UK’s hot air…

Read more
hot air balloons in the sky at sunrise

Hot Air Balloon Festivals Across the UK, Have you ever witnessed the magic of…

Read more

Hot Air Balloon Fiesta Fun At Bristol International Balloon Fiesta And Telford Balloon Fiesta, We've had an extremely busy summer here at…

Read more

The Best Easter Themed Hot Air Balloons with MJ Ballooning, When it comes to hot air…

Read more