Bristol Balloon Fiesta announces new additions to 2024 event

Hot air balloons take off at the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta 2018
-Credit: (Image: Ellie Kendall)

The Bristol International Balloon Fiesta returns with its all-new format this August, and a host of new additions and activities to get stuck into, in addition to the hot air balloons themselves. The main Ashton Court element of the Fiesta, which takes place between August 9-11 (Friday to Sunday) will come after four days of community launches across the city and promises to be a weekend filled with "wonder, excitement, and family-friendly entertainment", organisers say.

Still free to attend, visitors will be able to take in the sights of (hopefully) two mass ascents a day, with more than 100 balloons taking to the air if weather permits. The new event structure will also see Night Glows on both the Friday and Saturday evenings, with some 25 hot air balloons lighting up to music in the main arena.

Away from the balloons, Ashton Court Estate's arena arena will be abuzz with a plethora of other displays, activities and more.

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Members of the Bristol Bears rugby team will be offering coaching sessions for children, as well as meet-and-greet opportunities with players from both the men's and women's squads. Balloon enthusiasts will also be able to get up close with pilots and learn about their high-flying adventures.

Spectators can cheer on ballooning teams during the Inflation Races, where teams race to see who can unpack and inflate their balloons the fastest. Meanwhile, model balloon displays will showcase intricate miniature versions of Fiesta favourite balloon designs, and memorable special shape balloons of old will also be tethered for some up-close viewing.

Other main arena events include the Thatchers Big Apple Race will see hilarity ensue as competitors race to push giant inflatable apples to a finish line. And the Solent Stars Youth Motorcycle Team will wow Fiesta-goers with 'gravity-defying tricks'.

Outside of the arena

Younger attendees can visit the Brizzle Kicks Stage, which is run by Party Peeps and provides daily children's entertainment throughout the event - from games to performances. Music lovers can also enjoy the new BIMM Music Stage, featuring performances by up-and-coming local artists from BIMM Institute Bristol. There will also be live music performances on the BBC Acoustic Stage throughout the weekend, as well as live music before each Night Glow, courtesy of Bristol Samba.

Another new addition to the Fiesta is the Skate Ramp, which has been provided by Bristol-based Canvas Skateparks. Free skate jams will be scheduled during the evening mass ascents, and 'try it' sessions throughout the weekend will allow visitors of all skill levels to give skateboarding a go.

On Friday and Sunday, Fiesta visitors will have the opportunity to get up close and personal with an authentic fire engine, while across the weekend guests can take away their own strip of Fiesta-branded photos courtesy of a vintage caravan photobooth.

The Bristol International Balloon Fiesta will host the British National Hot Air Balloon Championships (The Nationals) in 2024
The Bristol International Balloon Fiesta will host the British National Hot Air Balloon Championships (pictured) in 2024 -Credit:Bristol International Balloon Fiesta

There's also interactive experiences for the whole family to enjoy throughout the Fiesta weekend this year - the Rapid Shot airsoft experience will test the aim of visitors, while Shades of Grey will offer face painting, glitter and temporary tattoos. Puxton Park will even have its own stand, featuring activities, challenges and possibly even some animals.

What's more, Cookie Cartoonery will be in attendance, selling personalised official Bristol International Balloon Fiesta t-shirts for those wanting a lasting memento, as well as running cartoon drawing workshops. While Fiesta regulars Born in Bristol and Atlanta Beads will be selling their Bristol and balloon themed jewellery and gifts.

Food, drink and charity

The Fiesta will also celebrate Bristol's culinary scene, with local flavours on offer from some of Bristol’s up and coming culinary stars, including Bake My Day, I Scream Taco, Bishopston Bagels, Soul Bowl, Gopal’s Curry Shack, Indian Summer and Afista Barista. The team from Boe Gin will be offering tastings and the chance to purchase a bottle as a souvenir of the event.

This year, Love Squared has been announced as the official charity partner for the Fiesta. For ten years, the charity has been making a difference in the city, transforming the lives of children and young people dealing with mental health challenges and SEND. Fiesta-goers are encouraged to swing by their vibrant tent for fun kids’ activities, a Fiesta postcard stand, and classic teddy tombola – you might even win a hot air balloon ride.

Hospitality & Parking

While the Fiesta is free to attend, visitors wanting to enhance their day out can enjoy a selection of hospitality packages on offer at this year’s event. The Sky Lounge provides a VIP experience right next to the arena with dedicated wi-fi, private toilets and cash bar, while the Sky Lounge Glow provides guests with exclusive access to the launch field during Friday and Saturday’s Nightglows. For those that want a unique dining experience, the Fiesta has partnered with Pasture, who will be running a dedicated onsite restaurant on the edge of the arena. Tickets and reservations can be purchased here.