Next week sees the celebration of National Balloon Week commencing May 22nd 2011.

A balloon is simply a flexible bag inflated with a gas such as helium, hydrogen or oxygen and can be made from material such as rubber, latex or nylon. Even dried animal bladders have been used in the past to make balloons; lovely!

In 1824, whilst experimenting with different gases, Michael Faraday invented the most common type of balloon, the rubber balloon.

In 1782, whilst watching a bonfire the French Montgolfier brothers realised that warm air was lighter than cool air and set about filling a bag with hot air to see if it would fly. The rest is history as they say.

In contrast, in the 1970s, metalised plastic film began to be used to create pretty decorative floating foil balloons filled with helium.

As well as for fun, balloons are used as flying machines for transport, pleasure trips, defence and meteorology.

It goes without saying that here at Virgin Balloon Flights we love balloons, not least because balloons tend to conjure images of colour, happiness and celebration.

Balloons can also symbolise something special; a birthday, a party, happiness, togetherness and in the case of hot air ballooning – daring, romance and adventure! Just visit our gallery and you’ll get the idea.

So to experience a magical balloon ride in one of our beautiful big red iconic balloons and feel part of ballooning history, take a look at our range of balloon flights that take off from almost every corner of England, Scotland and Wales.

You can also find out more about the ballooning experience by visiting us on Facebook and by following us @VirginBalloons on Twitter.