Bristol International Balloon Festival
I actually stumbled across the Bristol International Balloon Festival purely by chance, but I’m so glad I did! I now have it my mission to find another event during our world tour!
So once we had decided to go, it was not the same issue of parking! The balloon festival didn’t allow for motorhomes in their 4 allocated parking sites and the nearest campsite was charging £100 for 4 days (we only needed 1 night). So we were in search of suitable parking… facebook to the rescue!
While researching the events I stumbled on a page that suggested Bedington Cricket Club were opening their site for parking at £10 per vehicle. We navigated to the area but then became embroiled in a war of parking. We were directed down a pathway (the wrong one) by the owner of the field next door and it was too late to turn back. I would have preferred to park at the cricket ground knowing the funds were contributing to Youth Cricket development but it was too late! doh… I was kicking myself a little.
We still had no idea what to expect or where to go and so, like sheep, we followed the crowds. All we knew is that it was FREE!
The walk was longer than expected and up a steep hill just as Ethan began one of his migraine turns. Trying to carry him was a bigger challenge but it wasn’t too far to go. As we reached the top of the hill we passed a circus/fairground area which we promised the boys we’d come back to. That was until we turned the corner and realised the actual scale of the event.
There was an area cordoned off for the Balloons and all around the field was filled with hundreds of stalls, eateries, fairground rides.. it was immense! And the people… oh so many people!
Due to Ethan’s medical issue we decided to sit down and let his medicine work while waiting for the show to start. Unfortunately the wind was gusting quite a bit and things were pushed back in the hope that when the sun started to set it would settle down.
Take-off … or not @ 6pm
The commentators were filling time and mentioning that there were displays and events happening over the whole weekend so it’s worth spending more than 1 day within the area if you get chance. At the same time we watched a number of balloons battling to tether to the ground. There was a tear-drop, a large box of wine, a minion and many more just waiting! I was more excited than the kids.
As time passed on we knew there was a cut-off time as they can’t fly at night and the arena was directed towards a screen and a smoke signal to see whether it would be green – fly, amber – maybe fly, red – no fly… it was red! Gutted, but the commentator suggested that the Night Glow at 9pm would still go ahead.
With that in mind and Ethan feeling better we mooched around the area and were surprised at how much there was to do. Obviously you had to pay for each of them and it took some persuading to get the boys to stop asking for EVERYTHING but they were just too excited!
Night Glow @ 9pm
As darkness fell we relocated ourselves to a better position to see the full effects of the show. There was a countdown and before we knew it 25 balloons were lit up, swaying in the breeze. The night glow had begun! EEK!!! The balloons were tethered into position and as the music began the balloons were lit up in sequence to mimic the change in tempo. It was FANTASTIC! The music was lively and current and everyone was just in awe at these beasts glowing in front of us.
Having had such a long few weeks we knew the boys were getting tired and decided that fighting against traffic would be silly so had to opt to leave the event early. We were gutted really but having seen 30 minute was enough to ensure this is on my world tour bucket list! It’s something I will be recommending to all my family and friends. As we were walking down there were scores of people walking towards the event. I clearly didn’t read that there was also going to be a fireworks display which started as we reached the motorhome and so got a clear view of the display.
It was definitely one of the most memorable events I have attended in a long time!