The Bristol International Balloon Fiesta is a free to attend, three-day event that celebrates the city and its heritage links to the remarkable world of hot air ballooning.

From Friday 9th to Sunday 11th August, the rolling hills of Ashton Court on the outskirts of the city of Bristol are home to a temporary playground of entertainment, and a stage set ready and waiting for over 100 hot air balloons to take flight.

This iconic event has been a steadfast in the UK’s event calendar for more than four decades.  With the city of Bristol playing the best matched host as the birthplace of ballooning in Europe, and now the capital of the sport worldwide.

Over the years, the impact of the event has grown far beyond the initial ambitions of a group of friends in 1979. It is now a Bristol institution, and is a synonymous icon, representing the region around the world.  


At the heart of the experience of this unique event, is a game of chance – will these majestic hot air balloons take flight. With mass ascents of over 100 hot air balloons scheduled twice daily, visitors have the chance to see the compact central arena awash with a rainbow of colour at dawn (approx. 6am) for a peaceful morning song, and at dusk (approx. 6pm) to mark the closing of the day before the start of evening celebrations.  During the day, a programme of entertainment, traders, exhibitors, caterers and activities allow visitors to experience the magic of ballooning and this unique day out even when the weather prevents them from taking flight.  On Friday and Saturday, visitors can stay beyond nightfall to experience the event’s infamous Night Glows. When after dark, dozens of hot air balloons inflate, and use their burners to glow in time to a soundtrack of inspiring music by BBC Radio Bristol to bring the party atmosphere and the crowd to their feet.


Ballooning is weather dependent, specifically in relation to wind so this is built into the experience. As forecasts can change, and the weather around Ashton Court Estate can be very localised any decision to fly is left until the pilot’s briefings, which take place just before a scheduled flight.

A countdown and smoke cannon then reveals whether it is safe for pilots to fly. If they don’t fly the Fiesta has refocussed attention to introduce multiple opportunities for visitors to still experience the magic of ballooning.  

If they do fly, visitors are given a spectacle like no other. The chance occurrence of witnessing a mass ascent is awe-inspiring and truly magical thanks to the incredible balloon teams, a compact arena, and the backdrop of the city of Bristol.


Despite how much the event has grown, in size and profile, the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta is still a not-for-profit organisation, operated by a board of voluntary trustee directors. Every year, this team works relentlessly with their delivery partners to raise the funds required to stage this globally recognised event.

  • Don Cameron  
  • Chris Allcock (chair)
  • Clive Bailey 
  • Maggie Cameron 
  • Pete Dalby 
  • Nick Dunnington
  • Ben Hardy 


The Flying Committee is a dedicated voluntary team of experienced pilots, and hot air balloon experts. Together, they are responsible for all hot air ballooning activity throughout the main event, and additional Fiesta launches throughout the year. They are proficient at monitoring weather forecasts and guiding our balloon pilots, and their teams on the decision to fly.

  • Pete Dalby (Chair) 
  • Don Cameron
  • Peter Grey 
  • Dave Boyle 
  • Teresa Whitchell 
  • Paul Burrows 
  • Mike Wadsworth 
  • Ian Martin 
  • Clive Bailey