The largest hot air balloon festival is happening again soon in Bristol! The Bristol International Balloon Fiesta is one of the top outdoor festivals in the UK and held every year in August.
Well, for those of you who haven’t heard about this festivity, here we’ve prepared the ultimate guide of the spectacular free event in Bristol. Because maybe you, yes you, will be the part of this annual meeting of hot air balloons!
We’re so excited to break down everything you need to know about this, and since you still have time, why not book your flight to Bristol soon? Let’s see how to plan everything before the fiesta!
A Guide to the Amazing Hot Air Balloon Festival in Bristol
If you love outdoor festivals and its vibrant environment, you’ll be pleased to hear that Bristol International Balloon Festival is being held annually. Here’s everything you need to know about the event, how to get there, what to see, where to stay, and many more so you won’t get lost!
What is it, actually?
Like we said before, this is the largest hot air balloon festival in the UK, Bristol to be exact, where around 100,000 visitors will come to Ashton Court each day to see the balloons soar above Bristol.
Alongside balloons, there’ll be on-site family-friendly amusement rides, games, and musical entertainment. It will be a total fun to bring your kiddos or chill with your squad here! Oh, not forget to mention about the Night Glows, mass ascents, and fireworks show too 😉
When and where is this happening?
The Bristol International Balloon Fiesta takes place every year in August, and in 2019 it runs for four days over a weekend on 8th – 11th August. The event held at Ashton Court Estate, about 4 miles southwest of central Bristol.
How much is the ticket?
Good news. You don’t need to pay any dollars to come to this event. We repeat, not even a single penny! The festival is FREE of charge. However, if you bring your own vehicle, there’s a charge made for parking on the event side. We’ll tell you the details later, so keep on scrolling!
What to expect at the Fiesta?
Bristol International Balloon Festival has different schedule each day, therefore you have to check the complete schedule to choose your preferred date. We’ve prepared an overview of several big events happening within this festival below.
Generally known as mass ascents or morning/evening balloon lifts. This is the main event of Bristol International Balloon Festival, where up to 100 hot air balloons launch at the same time for one to two hours. There’ll usually be morning and early evening launches, so you can choose either way that fits you. However, if the weather is not quite good, there might be delays on the launch.
It’s when a number of hot air balloons are set up in the field but are tethered to the ground, giving a chance a closer look for visitors to see the balloons. This also is being done for vintage balloons or special balloons that purposely choose not to fly.
Held just before dusk, when the hot air balloons inflate and tethered to the ground. Then once dark, the pilots will ignite propane burners so that the balloons will light up and glow! This is everyone’s favorite time to enjoy the night in Bristol, when the balloons light up at once, synchronized to the music and followed by magnificent fireworks.
Special shape balloon event
Besides the traditional and common shape balloons just like we all know, there are numerous special shaped balloons too! You’ll spot some cartoon characters, company logos, animals, hearts, action figures, and many more special shaped balloons that will entertain the visitors.
Model balloon displays & competitions
Since there are lots of people who come to the festival, there’s balloons competition that allows people to make small-sized balloons by modeling full-sized hot air balloons. Totally fun to see how creative people are making with paper, fabric, and even other materials!
Other events & activities
In addition to the events that have always been held annually, there are also other activities scheduled in between, such as music performances, dancing, family games, carnival, small-scaled amusement park, local trade booths, and even food market! We guarantee that you won’t feel bored at all to come here all day long.
Where to stay during the event?
There are plenty of hotels near and around Bristol, however, during that season, the price will be quite expensive since it’s at the end of the summer. Find hotels in Bristol which is suitable for your needs and budget so you can enjoy your vacay to the fullest!
Alternatively, you can stay at the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta area by camping within the grounds of Ashton Court Estate. A hassle-free option for those who want to be close to the site. Even better that the toilet, shower, and cafe facilities are provided at the camp!
Besides camping, there’s also glamping packages in a boutique camping village, allowing you to enjoy the Fiesta in a convenience way. The glamping packages are available for couples or groups, furnished with carpets, cozy beds, toilets and hot showers, only a few minutes away from the launch field.
How to reach the Fiesta?
The balloon festival will be taking place in Bristol, UK. If you’re there already, reaching the festival ground is easy. If you come from the other parts of the world, you have to fly all the way to Bristol. Don’t worry, after coming to the Fiesta, there are plenty of fun things to do in and around Bristol!
There are several ways to get there, but no matter what method you arrive, you need to walk around 10 to 20 minutes to the field.
You’ll find a large parking lot at Ashton Court Estate for the Fiesta visitors! If you drive your own car to get here, the cost of parking you need to pay ranges from about £9 to £25. There are 3 types: premium parking, main car park parking, and disabled parking.
The most expensive spots are the nearest to the event entrance and come with a free fiesta guide booklet. The parking tickets are valid for the entire day but only for a one-time parking entrance. You can book the spot either through the website in advance or paid on arrival.
By shuttle bus
The shuttle bus service that will take you to the Balloon Fiesta is to and from Temple Meads Train Station, the City Center, and the Fiesta Park. It costs £3 for a single ticket or £5 for a day ticket. Going with a group is even cheaper! Only £15 for up to 5 adults traveling together.
After you reach the bus stop, it’s about a 20-minute walk to the field. Since there’ll be a lot of people who come and leave the event regularly, so you have to check the bus schedule first and be ready for the tourist crowd (yet still fun, though!)
Taxi is another convenient way to come if you don’t bring a car but don’t want to take the shuttle bus. You can either use a conventional taxi or online taxi. There might be surge pricing during the festival so you have to prepare a pretty penny if you want to use taxis.
Ride a bike
Most of the European countries have a good bike path, so why don’t you try to ride a bike to the Balloon Fiesta? The path connects the city to the Ashton Court Estate, traffic-free! Besides, there’s also bike parking available at the festival so it’s totally safe to park your bike there.
Walk to the field
Whichever way you take to the event, we clearly stated that you still have to walk around 10 to 20 minutes. However, if you’re staying on the west side of Bristol, there are two walking routes which are via Festival Way and the Clifton Suspension Bridge. A great choice to do a bit of a workout!
Can the visitors ride the balloon?
The fun isn’t complete without riding the balloon! A few companies offer paid passenger flights during the Balloon Fiesta. You can book in advance to make sure you secure the spot. Expect to pay £200 to £250 per person to go up.
However, if you want for a more budget-friendly ride, you can go up outside the festival by saving 40% to 60% or costs around £100 to £150 per person.
After the festival, what to do around Bristol?
There’s so much going on in Bristol which should make you never get bored. With all those choices, you can make the most of this amazing city! Checking out world-class street art, going to nightclubs, riding the Bristol Ferry Boat, or just strolling around the city will keep you busy and fun!
After the Bristol International Balloon Festival, a quick visit to the capital city of the UK won’t be the wrong choice after all. Let’s head to London and discover! To ease you, we’ve done our part by preparing a round-up of 5 free attractions you must visit in London. Who says you have to pay through the nose? 😉