Newest Review: ... If you visit the Balloon Fiesta website www.bristolballoonfiesta.co.uk you will find parking info. Whatever you do dont park in the v... more
Ballooning in Bristol
Bristol Balloon Fiesta
Member Name: blackviolets
Bristol Balloon Fiesta
Advantages: great fun, lots to see and do
Disadvantages: if the weather's a bit grotty it can put a bit of a dampner on things.
The Bristol Balloon Fiesta has been running since 1979 and yes it may not sound all that interesting but balloons isn't all there is to it. It's common to have over 100,000 visitors each year and when it only runs for a total of 4 days that's pretty good considering. In 2003 there were so many crowds that they had to close the Clifton Suspension Bridge for fear that it couldn't take the weight of incoming traffic and pedastrians. They have continued to do this each year now.
It takes place on an estate nearby called Ashton Court which is close to the city centre and even if you were to get lost all you'd have to do is follow the crowds of people.
Admission is free but car parking will cost around about £7 (you have to get their reasonably early to get a space) You can however pay advanced parking tickets from the website (http://www.bristolfiesta.co.uk) so you can definetly park somewhere.
Car=£7, Campervan and minibus=£14 and motorbike=£3.50
What a lot of people do however is park somewhere in the centre and then walk the rest of the way, but it's better to do this if you don't have young children with you.
Mass launches of the balloons, depending on the weather, happen at 6am and 6pm. When you're watching 100 balloons up in the sky it's always a good sight, especially when they have the special shapes. Things like beer mugs, teletubbies, lighthouses and Homer Simpson.
As night falls you get to witness the nightglow which always attracts a lot of people so again you need to find a space sooner rather than later to get a good view. Over the four nights they play a series of music and then have the balloons fired up in time to it. Obviously you have to be there to see it to truely enjoy it. After a massive fireworks display always follows, which is going to be the best one you're going to see for a long time.
In the main arena you can expect to see lots of different attractions and persformances to watch. Ranging from a fire and rescue display, the mass balloon launches, parachuting, motorbike stunts, royal marines and bird launches.
There are also a series of craft stalls to pick and choose from, fairground rides, bit of advise lots of people seem to throw up around them so be careful where you walk(!)
Let's be fair if you live in Bristol or around it you must be aware of the fiesta. It's always packed and you get people from all over the world. Literally. Last year there was 5 tour buses parked nearby to us full of tourists from America, China there were 3 particularily friendly ladies from Russia who took a liking to my 3 year old cousin.
I've been going there since I was knee high to a grasshopper and I've never tired of it as there is always something different being added to it. Even when you've finished for the day there are plenty of food stalls to sit down and eat from.
This year it's running from the 6th-9th August so you've all got just under a week to get your affairs in order before coming to Bristol to give it a go. If you don't enjoy it you can always go for a bit of shopping as the centre isn't too far away.
Definetly worth a go, especially if you're stuck for something to do in the summer holidays. It is better if the weather is good naturally but hopefully this year the sun will be shining!