PREVIEW: World-famous balloon fiesta returns to Ashton Court

PUBLISHED: 18:00 05 August 2019

Ashton Court filled with colourful hot air balloons.Picture: Jackie Caven

Ashton Court filled with colourful hot air balloons.Picture: Jackie Caven

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Thousands of visitors will descend on Ashton Court to witness Bristol International Balloon Fiesta's return this week.

Bristol International Balloon Fiesta.Picture: Clive FurbankBristol International Balloon Fiesta.Picture: Clive Furbank

The festival is due to celebrate its 41st anniversary at the estate, and organisers have revealed Icons Of Bristol is this year's theme of choice.

Around 130 hot air balloons are set to feature at the four-day event, which will be kicked-off with its special shapes launch.

The show's annual nightglow, which illuminates Ashton Court's sky, will also be held, including a spectacular firework finale at the end of the fiesta.

This event will showcase Cameron Balloons' Darth Vader entry, which will make its first appearance in Bristol after making appearances across the globe in Australia, the United States, China and Malaysia.

Bristol International Balloon Fiestas night glow.Picture: Natasha KingBristol International Balloon Fiestas night glow.Picture: Natasha King

The number of family activities available to visitors will increase this year, with aerial and model aircraft displays, fairground rides, balloon tethering and demonstrations.

There will also be food stalls and bars, as well as live music played during the show.

The organisers have also teamed up with Aerospace Bristol in celebration of Wallace and Gromit's 30th anniversary, created by Concorde and Aardman Animations.

The fiesta is Europe's largest annual gathering of hot-air balloons, and has been labelled one of the UK's top-five outdoor events.

Ashton Court filled with colourful hot air balloons.Picture: Jackie CavenAshton Court filled with colourful hot air balloons.Picture: Jackie Caven

The show launched a crowd-funding campaign, which raised £10,000 to help bring the Star Wars-themed balloon to the event.

Organisers raise around £750,000 annually to run the extravaganza, which is led by a committee of volunteers.

People who supported the crowd-funding campaign had the chance to win hot-air balloon flights, a nightglow crew experience and more, and the campaign ended on Friday.

The extravaganza thanked its sponsors and volunteers, which said it 'couldn't run the festival' without them.

Ashton Court filled with colourful hot air balloons.Picture: Jackie CavenAshton Court filled with colourful hot air balloons.Picture: Jackie Caven

Ashton Court's fiesta will take place at the venue in Long Ashton from Thursday until Sunday.

The festival runs tomorrow (Thursday) from 12-10.30pm, 6am-8.30pm Friday, 6am-10.30pm Saturday and 6am-8pm Sunday.

The event is free, and car parking tickets, priced £11.79-£27.69, are available at www.bristolballoonfiesta.co.uk

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