Monday, 21 March 2011

Bristol - Balloon Fiesta (1) ... colours and faces

I have now moved back up to Bristol for the last leg of my 2009 south west tour.
The Bristol Balloon Fiesta which is usually held on the second weekend in August is now one of the largest in Europe and attracts balloon enthusiasts from various parts of the world.

The free event in the 850 acre Ashton court estate is held over four days and it has been said that 100,000 can be in attendance on any one of the days.

Ashton Court on the edge of Bristol city centre.
Ashton Court Mansion is a historic grade 1 listed 15th century  building which has been extended over the years by the successive generations of the Smyth family who owned it. In 1946 the dynasty of family ownership ended but it was another 13 years before the City of Bristol acquired the forgotten and neglected building. Restoration was a slow process but the building is available for business and wedding hire. Personally, I was privileged to be able to attend an evening function for a wedding during the previous year to when these pictures were taken.

On arrival in the park, the crowds were in awe as the Red Arrows RAF team arrived to do what they do best .... giving a jaw dropping aerobatic display...

Despite the team being formed in 1964, they have a long 20th century history in other forms and despite threats in more recent times of the fleet being dismantled due to spending cuts, it took the British Government to step in and overrule the decision as a matter of public relations for worldwide air shows.

Maybe not quite the 1000 km/h maximum speed

It was time to take my place of the showground and got a good vantage point near the fence ready to watch the colourful spectacle as the balloons arrived in their ground transport.

I didn't expect to come across another colourful spectacle as I took my place behind a feathered friend.

"Who's a pretty boy ?!"
... and his mate.... "yeah, he always gets the attention, what about me ?!"

I seem to be attracting all kinds of animals as a dog arrives on the scene and doesn't seem too excited about what is going on in the field.

Unfortunately the Parrot is not so sure and requests a swap from the shoulder to the opposite knee and is also for alternative reasons not too bothered about what is going on the other side of the fence !!

I hope you enjoy the following series of images as a more intimate introduction to the festival...

"I think we are missing something! "
"I'm sure I packed the balloon in here last week !"

"Found it... I hope this stitching holds that I did after last time ! "
" Having difficulty inflating.... I wonder if I can ask for a volunteer ? "
" I'll come and help blow it up "
"That's better, keep blowing we're getting there"
"Help, I'm getting crushed against my car with a balloon ! "
"Not much to look at but it's warm in here "
"First up, all done and ready to go, just need to wait for all the others now"
To be concluded in part 2 as more balloons are inflated and take off commences ........


  1. Those balloons really do look like a lot of work, but they are beautiful. Love that parrot. He looks so very sweet.

  2. This is a fantastic post!! What great photos and captions. :-) What a privilege it must have been to attend an event at the mansion. I've been doing marathon watching of Downton Abbey and long for glimpses back to the time when that mansion would have been a bustling estate.

    Like the shots of the animals too. What an enjoyable event that must have been! I've never been in a hot air balloon, but it looks exciting, scary, and thrilling!

  3. A balloonfest--what fun. I think I am correct when I say the largest gathering in the world is held in New Mexico in early October here in the states. I have never attended but would love to someday. Your's looks pretty spectacular though--great shots of the balloons, the jets (totally awesome), the crowds, and those cute little parrots. Always nice to see your photos. Mickie

  4. It's a nice event to participate. And yes, the biggest balloon fiesta in US is that from Albuquerque, as forgetmenot wrote. It's a great opportunity to take photos. I like the parrot in this post.

    I traveled myself in a baloon last September in Cappadocia, Turkey, as I wrote on my blog. It was an amazing experience!

  5. Absolutely stunning photographs. The red arrows are not easy but you made it look so.
    There's not a bad photo in this post....assuming Ashton Court is yellow.

  6. A very interesting post about the Bristol - Balloon Fiesta..

    Very nice captures of peoples and of course

  7. It's such an fascinating event! Love your photos and would like to attend it one day:)

  8. What fun. I've always wanted to go to one of those.

  9. I've never experienced a Balloon Fiesta, so this post fills in the gap for me.

    Everything in your post is attractive: the vivid colors of red, yellow, green, blue; the breathtaking aerobatic display; the cute birds; the people in the crowd, and of corse, the big balloons in the two pictures at the end of the post.
    Thanks for sharing.

  10. Loved the comentrery,and the photos, not to sure that yellow suits Ashton court!
    Looking forward to post 2
    Have a good week

  11. Thanks for all the nice comments-I really appreciate them. I love the sand sculptures in the previous post--I'm amazed that people can make those. Mickie :)

  12. Bristol's - Balloon Fiesta looks amazing and your fabulous pictures makes it looking even better!

  13. hot air balloon was happening in malaysia last week too... but i was tied up... now looking at your pics, arghh.... JEALOUS!

  14. The captions are funny, it made me laugh esp the image of a guy being crushed between the car and the balloon.

    I love attending balloon festival. I feel like a kid again watching those hot air balloons.

    I will post some of my photos that I took last month when I visited the hot air balloon fiesta here in my country.

    Happy weekend, my friend.

  15. I have never been to such a show! Here in Romania we have only Air Show with military and civil sport planes! But I don't like crowds, so I have no images from this kind of fiesta!
    With you, here, everything is so close....
    Thank you!

  16. Farmchick.. Thanks, I couldn't believe it when I positioned myself in the crowd behind a Parrot.

    Cranberry Morning... Thanks, The interior of Ashton court has been restored in exactly the way you would think for a building of this age for functional hire use. The Balloon Fiesta was a unique and fantastic event, probably not something I would have the chance to see again.

    Mickie... Thanks, A festival of colour. The Red Arrows do an awesome aerial display at a variety of famous British events.

    Traveling Hawk... Thanks, It's nice to find that at least one person has been up in a ballon. It must have been a magnificent experience.

    Adrian... Thanks, It was challenging enough trying to find the Red through the camera far less trying to keep the images steady. Yellow is the colour of the building albeit the back of it from that angle.

    Monika... Thanks, The colourful animals were amazing.

    Joo... Thanks, It was a great but very exhausting day that lives long in the memory.

    JoLynne Lyon... Thanks, It's something I had not thought about before this.

    DUTA... Thanks, I loved the spectacle of colour.

    George The Lad... Thanks, The yllow is a bit odd, but like I said a few comments ago, it is round the back.

    Berit... Thanks for your great comment.

    Phivos Nicolaides... Thanks, I am pleased that enjoyed it.

    Lily Riani... Thanks, There is always another time for your festival. I was unavailable too for this event for several years and this was my last ever opportunity. I had no idea that 1 & 1/2 years later people from all over the world would see this set too.

    Rizalenio...Thanks, I am pleased you were able to share this experience with me even though it happened on the other side of the world. I always like to keep a little subtle humour in the posts... if I can.

    Wind... Thanks, This was the opportunity of a lifetime and I was privileged to get so close. However, events like this provide other kind of problems not seen here in this post like where to eat and other normal things that I will not mention here !!!!


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