Renowned balloon festival returns to South West

The 36th anniversary of the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta has recently taken place.

This year’s event even witnessed the breaking of a world record, when 90 hot air balloons were landed at a former chocolate factory in Keynsham.

Thousands of people watched the balloons taking off, with the evening night glows attracting even bigger crowds. There were also four mass ascents, with the floating hot air balloons creating a spectacle for the gathered visitors.

Don Cameron, the head of Bedminster-based Cameron Balloons, said:

“The Balloon Fiesta has become a bit of an institution. When we started it we had less than 20 balloons and we had no infrastructure at all, we just gathered in the park [Ashton Court].”

He believes that refreshments at the inaugural balloon festival was provided from a small food wagon, while no crowds formed due to people not knowing that the event was taking place.

This year, the hot air balloon fiesta attracted over 500,000 visitors from the UK and all over the world.

The festival even had the X Factor, with singer Jahmene Douglas having a ride in one of the balloons. The star, who was a finalist on the talent-seeking television show, even performed from one of the baskets. He expressed his excitement at being able to take part at the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta on his Twitter account.

While a number of events did have to be cancelled due to the weather, hot air balloon pilot Mark Simmons said that most of the time conditions for ascents were perfect, adding that he had the best job in the world.

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