This month we truly went above and beyond (the rooftops) for the latest installment in our Bucket List series, swapping the dark depths of the caves at Go Below Ultimate Xtreme Underground Adventure for the open skies, as Lily took flight in a hot air balloon at the Bristol Baloon Fiesta 2017!
Bristol International Balloon Fiesta
Returning to the city in August each year, Bristol International Balloon Fiesta is the largest meeting of hot air balloons in Europe, making for a jaw-dropping spectacle as 130 colourful balloons from around the globe (including two of our very own Red Letter Days balloons – the true stars of the show) assemble for the weekend. Having gained status as a real highlight in the Bristol events calendar, the free event is held over four days at Ashton Court Estate. Though the fascinating congregation of hot air balloons is the main draw, guests also flock to enjoy the fantastic array of trade stands, fairground rides, entertainment and fireworks set up for the occasion. The famous ‘Night Glow’ is one of the most popular exhibits, made up of 25 hot air balloons that are transformed into giant light bulbs and illuminated in time to a booming soundtrack of much-loved hits.
Check out our selection of hot air balloon rides to experience the most tranquil flying experience imaginable.
Our Lucky Hot Air Balloon Passenger
Since making Bristol her home eight years ago, our bucket-lister – Lily Doble (a food, travel and lifestyle blogger) has been an avid fan of the Bristol Balloon Fiesta and makes it her mission each year to rise at the crack of dawn and watch the morning mass ascent. So, you can imagine how excited she was to find out that this year she would be witnessing this magical event from up in the air, rather than as a mere onlooker back on the ground.
Red Letter Days’ Laura was also lucky enough to attend the fiesta this year and, after witnessing the pure excitement of the children in attendance, she decided to have a chat with a few of them to find out what they made of the vibrant event. You can read all about it in our kids’ reaction blog.
Booked in for a 6am flight, Lily admitted it wasn’t easy peeling herself away from the warmth of her bed, no matter how well practiced she was from attending the morning ascent in previous years. The generous amount of free coffee on offer in the Members Enclosure helped her rally on through the early start!
The sensation of riding in a hot air balloon is unique as a flying experience and, bearing in mind that passengers are transported in an open-air basket, it’s easy to forget quite how far above the ground they are, as the balloon floats gracefully above the rooftops.
Blessed with perfect flying conditions, Lily enjoyed just over an hour of drifting through tranquil Bristol airspace, before landing in a nearby school playground. She described an initial “Heart-sinking-to-your-stomach sickness” as she looked down at the increasing distance between the basket and the safety of solid ground. However, this unease was quickly replaced with a feeling of calm, thanks to the peaceful silence up there, interrupted only by the occasional blasts of propane gas.