Last Sunday, when the weather was a lot nicer than it is this weekend (although still poor for August, damn British summertime!), David and I took a spontaneous trip to Bristol after hearing that the annual hot-air balloon fiesta was taking place. Neither of us had been before, and after only deciding to go on the day, we didn’t know what to expect either.
We arrived a little before lunch time, happy that the crowds we were expecting weren’t there. The trouble was, neither were the balloons. The entry to the show ground is free (you only pay for parking, £12 for the entire day), and there are many stalls, rides, and attractions to keep you entertained (we were particularly entertained by these weird colourful chicken/Moomin style mascots, that after sending a picture to our parent friends, we soon found out that they were twirly woo’s).
We wondered around the stalls, made up of local vendors and street-food trucks, and after getting some lunch, we plonked ourselves down near the fairground rides to eat al-fresco. We sunbathed, watched an aeroplane stunt show but still no balloons. It wasn’t until I asked a volunteer that I found out that balloons only take off twice a day. 6am and 6pm. Ooops.
At this point it was 1:30pm, so we opted to go explore Bristol and come back for the main event. We were both tired, me from work, David from a hangover, and with Bristol being a two-hour drive away we were so tempted to just go home. Yet we persevered and I am so glad we did. It was magical.
We managed to park ourselves right outside the take-off pad, and after seeing hundreds of folded, flat balloons, they all of a sudden come alive as soon as the burners are lit and fired up. One by one, the balloons took off, all met with cheers and claps from the crowd.
The beauty of it is difficult to explain. But hundreds of balloons scattered across the Bristol skyline is a sight I am so glad to have witnessed.
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