Happy birthday to the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta!
Europe’s largest ballooning event celebrates its 40th anniversary in southwest England this weekend. This year’s four-day festival at the Ashton Court Estate runs from Thursday to Sunday, and features 140 balloonists from around the world. A half-million people are expected to attend the free fiesta.
To mark its landmark birthday, some favorite balloon shapes are returning to fly ― including Rupert the Bear and the Michelin Man.
Check out our video of Rupert the Bear’s return here:
Mass ascents are scheduled to take place each afternoon from 6 p.m. local time. They’ll also begin at 6 a.m. local time on Friday, Saturday and Sunday ― which, depending on the wind direction, may give balloonists an eagle’s-eye view of local landmarks such as the Clifton Suspension Bridge.
Two Nightglows ― tethered balloons lighting up in time to a special soundtrack — and fireworks displays are scheduled Thursday and Saturday from 9 p.m. local time.
Check out our livestream of Thursday’s Nightglow here:
All activities are weather dependent, however, and could be postponed at a moment’s notice if it’s too windy or rainy. Thursday afternoon, Friday morning and Friday afternoon’s mass ascents were canceled, due to adverse weather.
The mass ascent on Saturday morning did go ahead, but then Saturday afternoon and the one on Sunday morning were also canceled.
Check out photographs from this year’s event below. We’ll add more as the weekend progresses.