Bristol International Balloon Fiesta is one of the most popular and striking outdoor events on the calendar. This year, the world-renowned free Fiesta returns to its original home at Ashton Court between Thursday 11 and Sunday 14 August. Make the most of the weekend’s ballooning extravaganza with these top tips, including what special shapes to look out for.

If you're planning on attending, please be aware that high temperatures are expected over the weekend, so we advise packing a water bottle (free refills are available on site), sun cream and hat, and leaving dogs at home. BBQs and cooking stoves are banned from the site due to extremely dry grass.

1. Book your car parking in advance

It’s the first time the Fiesta has returned to Ashton Court in all its former glory since 2019 and balloon enthusiasts are encouraged to pre-book their parking spots in advance. There will be no shuttle bus services running this year, so if you’re planning on driving to the festival you will need to grab yourself a parking space.

Car park opening and closing times can be found on the booking site. For more information on the best ways to get there, including cycling and walking routes, head to the official website.

For more travel information around the city and surrounding area, you can visit Travelwest or First West of England

Crowds at Bristol International Balloon Fiesta
Image - Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, credit Paul Box

2. Catch the morning ascent

The 4am wake-up calls are most definitely worth it to watch in awe as tons of hot air balloons take off into the sky with nothing but the sound of the burners and the birds chirping in the background. The morning ascent is a beautifully calming spectacle to watch, so make sure you set those alarms, head on down to Ashton Court, grab yourself a Costa Coffee and huddle up with the family as they set off.

It can be a tad cold for those early mornings, so wrap up with a couple of extra layers which you can easily remove throughout the day.

Hot air balloons flying over Bristol
Image - Balloons in flight, credit Paul Box

3. Experience the Sky Lounge

Want to get the best seats in the house to watch the morning and evening ascents throughout the four-day Fiesta?

New for 2022, the private Sky Lounge allows you to get up close to the ballooning action, offering the perfect space to watch the spectacular night glows and early morning flights. Those with Sky Lounge access can also benefit from a private bar, street food vendors and toilets, meaning less queues and better views. Please be aware that the fireworks after the Night Glows have been cancelled due to the extreme weather and dry grass on site.

If you’re keen on exclusive access, be sure to book your Sky Lounge space in advance on the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta website.

Night glow at Bristol International Balloon Fiesta
Image - Fiesta night glow, credit Plaster

4. Special shapes spotting

If you’re hoping to spot some special shapes at this year’s Fiesta, you won’t be disappointed! From giant orange slices to Busby the Queen’s Guard, Fiesta fans can expect some incredible shapes from this year’s ballooning lineup.

Keep an eye out for those brand new balloons making their first ever appearance. This year our favourite is the Paul Smith Signature Stripe balloon which was flown for the first time at the Fiesta community launch.

Dad and child at Bristol International Balloon Fiesta
Image - Bristol International Balloon Fiesta

5. On the ground family fun

Between morning and evening ascents, there are a variety of family-friendly activities for all to get involved in, located in the stunning grounds of Ashton Court Estate.

Make the most of the hours between flights by soaking up the sun with some live music hosted by Jelli Records, or grabbing a bite to eat from one of the many street food vendors on offer.

There are over one hundred trade stalls and food vendors to explore, alongside model balloons and planes to marvel at as well as Costa Coffee, who will be fuelling everyone up with their barista-style coffee and jam-packed entertainment line-up. A skydiver will even take flight to land in the ballooning arena at lunchtime..

For anyone visiting with the whole family and little ones, Party Peeps will be hosting Brizzle Kicks with Pip and Posy. Expect magic shows, street dance, puppet shows and singers to keep you entertained as you settle on the ground with a picnic blanket.

Costa Coffee team holding a balloon at Bristol International Balloon Fiesta
Image - Costa Coffee at Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, credit Paul Box

Keep an eye on the Bristol International Fiesta website and social media feeds (TwitterInstagramFacebook) for all up-to-date information and news about the mass ascents. Share your Fiesta snaps with us using #SummerInBristol on Instagram and Twitter too!

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