Mini guide getting to balloon fiesta

Image - Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, credit Paul Box

The green, wooded parkland of Ashton Court Estate is home to the annual Bristol International Balloon Fiesta. The FREE 4 day extravaganza (9-12 August), which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, attracts hundreds of thousands of people, so it's best to plan your journey well in advance to avoid disappointment.

We’ve put together a little guide below to help you get there. For lots more up-to-date information and news about the mass ascents, visit the Bristol International Fiesta website, or follow their feeds on social media – @Bristolballoon (twitter, instagram, facebook). 

Nightglows

Clifton Suspension Bridge is closed ahead of and after Nightglow events, from 6pm to midnight. So why not make a day of it, avoid the rush and arrive mid-afternoon to bag yourself a perfect viewing spot on the slope. 

Balloon fiesta

Image - Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, credit Paul Box

By Car

  • Pre-book parking in advance

There is lots of parking for cars, but you do need to leave plenty of time and pre-book parking in advance.

Carparks open at 5.30am (for the 6am morning ascent) and close for entry at 5pm and do bear in mind there can be a short wait to come and go during peak times.  

  • Don't use SAT NAV

The public car parks are clearly signposted and you will be directed with the flow of Balloon Fiesta traffic, so using SAT NAV is not advised. A plan has been put together to make sure everyone can get on and off site as smoothly as possible and that nearby major routes can still run smoothly. Temporary signs will be put out to help traffic flow, so pay attention to these rather than in-car technology.

  • Which road?

If you're coming from the North, M5 Junction 19: take the A369 towards Bristol city centre.

From the South, M5 Junction 21: take the A370 towards Bristol.

From the East or West, M4 Junction 20: take the M5 southbound, leaving at junction 19 for the A369 towards Bristol city centre.

  • Accessibility

Designated Disabled Parking is accessed via Gate 6, which is clearly signposted. To guarantee a space in the Disabled Car Park area, visitors are urged to book their car parking ticket in advance. Limited Disabled Car Parking is also available on the day. Click here for more information.

  • Drop Off/Pick Up Facility

Just dropping somebody off? Follow the event signs to a dedicated drop off/pick up facility which will be located a short walk from the Fiesta site. 

  • By Taxi

Ask your taxi driver to follow the road signs to the designated drop off/pick up location, which is a short walk from the event site.

Bristol balloon fiesta

Image - Balloons over Clifton Suspension Bridge, photo credit Gary Newman

On Foot 

  • Via Festival Way

Walking to the Fiesta site from Bristol City Centre, Southville and Clifton will take you about 45-minutes. If coming from central Bristol, take Festival Way – signposted from M Shed on the Harbourside. The route runs along the floating harbour for a short while before ducking behind Spike Island (carry on here if wanting to visit Brunel’s SS Great Britain) and onto The Chocolate Path (so named for its resemblance to chocolate bars which incidentally, were originally invented in Bristol).

  • Via Bristol Harbourside

You can also walk along the other side of the Harbour, past WatershedBordeaux Quay and The Grain Barge and cross the water just after The Pump House.

  • Via Clifton

If coming from Clifton, please bear in mind that the Clifton Suspension Bridge will be closed to all vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians from 6pm until midnight on Thursday 9 and Saturday 11 August for the Nightglows. This is to avoid possible structural stresses that could result from heavy pedestrian traffic.

  • Which gate?

The best gate to head for is on Ashton Road, near the village of Long Ashton as this gives the best access to the arena entertainment.

Bristol Balloon Fiesta

Image - Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, credit Paul Box

By Bicycle

Bristol is a cycling city and on any given day Ashton Court Estate draws cyclists thanks to its bike-friendly paths.

  • Festival Way

Bikers heading to the Fiesta can also take the traffic-free Festival Way. Starting from Bristol, take National Cycling Route 33 from Queen Square out of the city via Cumberland Road.

  • Via Clifton

It’s also possible to cycle over the Suspension Bridge if coming from Clifton (except on the evenings of the Nightglows).

  • Which gate?

Cyclists can enter Ashton Court Estate via the Gate on Kennel Lodge Road. There is bike parking available by the Mansion House and the fallow deer park. 

Image - Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, credit Paul Box

Image - Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, credit Paul Box

By Bus

First Bus will be operating official Balloon Shuttle buses buses every 10 minutes between Bristol Temple Meads Railway Station, Metrobus stop C2, Colston Avenue (opposite 4500 from Delhi Restaurant) in the City Centre and The Balloon Fiesta from 9-12 August.

The shuttle bus service will drop visitors at the roundabout just outside the event site. From there it takes about 20-minutes to reach the main arena via an uphill path.

First bus balloon shuttle timetable

  • What bus tickets are valid?

Staff will be available at Temple Meads station and The Centre selling tickets or you can buy your ticket on bus.

If you already hold a Bath and Bristol Outer Zone, West of England and West of England Plus: Day, Week, Month and Year ticket you will be able to upgrade it to include return travel on the Balloon Shuttle at a cost of £2 (just ask the driver or First Bus ticket seller).

No other tickets are valid on the Balloon Shuttle service which include Freedom Travelpass, PlusBus. 

  • How much is a bus ticket?

Fares:
Adult Balloon Shuttle Single - £3
Adult Balloon Shuttle Return - £5
Child / Young Person (16-21 years)* / Student* / Concession Balloon Shuttle Single - £2
Child / Young Person (16-21 years)* / Student* / Concession Balloon Shuttle Return - £3
*Discount eligible with a First photo ID pass.

Check the First Bus website for further details.

Mini guide Bristol balloon fiesta

Balloons over Bristol, photo credit Angharad Paull, Destination Bristol

By Train

GWR run regular, high-speed services to Bristol Temple Meads Railway Station and Bristol Parkway from London Paddington. Services also run to Bristol from many locations around the UK. On arriving at Bristol Temple Meads, visitors can make their onward journey to the Fiesta on the Official Fiesta Shuttle Bus (see above). Visit the National Rail Enquiries or Great Western Railway website for more details.

By Coach

National Express runs frequent coach services to Bristol from various locations in the UK. Pick up the Official Fiesta Shuttle Bus at Colston Avenue, a short walk from the Bristol Bus and Coach Station.

Image - Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, credit Paul Box

Image - Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, credit Paul Box

By Plane

The nearest airport is Bristol International Airport. The cheapest way of getting from there into central Bristol is to take the Airport Flyer Express Link bus which leaves frequently from outside the front of the airport. Services run to Bristol Temple Meads train station, Bristol Bus Station and Bedminster, cost £7 single, £11 return and take approximately 30 minutes.

Where to Stay

Not booked your accommodation yet? For local hotels, accommodation and campsites, see http://visitbristol.co.uk/accommodation.

  • Camp in Ashton Court Estate for the first time ever

For the first time ever, to mark their 40th anniversary, you can stay up close and personal to Bristol International Balloon Fiesta and camp within the grounds of Ashton Court Estate! The camp ground is located up near the golf course and provides quick access to the Fiesta site to enjoy early morning ascents, afternoon launch field activity, evening ascents and the popular Nightglow with Firework Finale. Fees are charged for the entire Fiesta weekend, per pitch, no matter how many nights you attend. Limited Motorhome space is available. Toilet, shower and cafe facilities are provided. All pitches are without electricity. Click here to buy camping tickets.

Bristol balloon fiesta mini guide

Image - Caravans parked up for Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, credit Paul Box

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