Hot air ballons. They're mesmerizing. They're magical. They're... what's the word?
Whimsical! That’s it! Balloons are whimsical.
They have an airy quality. Literally.
This summer, I had the pleasure of attending the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, held in Bristol (obviously) on 6-9 August.
During the launches, it was impossible not to feel a sense of childlike wonder while watching the balloons inflate, taking shape, eventually rising, urged upwards with every blast of flame. FUMPH! FUMPH! When the hundredth balloon floated off the ground, two hours later, and the earlier takeoffs were but a speck in the distance, I was still awestruck.
During the whole experience, all I could do was point, gasp, and marvel. Rinse. Repeat.
I'd like to share my first magical experience with hot air balloons. Please don’t point at your screen though. That’s just silly.
Here are the pictures from the morning launch. May these pictures inspire you to go to a balloon festival someday!
The fiesta featured a variety of activities including mass launches, model balloons, demonstrations, inflation races, to fireworks. The mass balloon launches were the main attraction, a daily fixture of the festival, once in the early morning and once in the evening (barring the opening day, which only featured an evening launch).
Our plan was to hit up both launches in one day; we would use the time in the late morning/afternoon to explore the area of Bristol around the Clifton Suspension Bridge. (We also had a Shaun the Sheep adventure but that's a story for another day.)
On Saturday, after our day trip to Bath on Friday, we woke up before the crack of dawn for the morning launch which started at 6am. It was a 40 minute walk from our Airbnb to the site. Also, it was cold. Brrrrr...
Why was the launch so early? Because balloons operate better in the cool air. (Duh, Jeffrey, use your brain!)
It might have been a bit chilly in the early morn, but it was all worth it once we saw those majestic balloons.
We got there in time to see the first balloons start to inflate. I was surprised to see so many people up so early.
As you may have noticed, most of the balloons were sponsored by companies and organizations.
There were also quite a few wacky ones like the badass Mr. Red Ranger. He wasn't a lone ranger though! Pink Ranger would make an appearance soon after.
Once Pink showed up, we spent the next 15 minutes rooting for the two mighty morphin' balloons to ascend together. (Awwwww... yes, we were balloon 'shippers...)
Unfortunately, the wind had other plans.
Standing there, observing those balloons drifting off into the distance, I couldn't help wondering what it was like to ride in a hot air balloon. Perhaps it's a bit like parachuting out of the sky... except in the opposite direction. Actually, maybe it's more like riding an ascending elevator.
Note: Add hot air balloon ride to my bucket list.
Just like that, the morning launch was over. We were left wanting more.
Luckily, we still had the evening launch, which would prove to be an even bigger spectacle.
Stay tuned for photos from the evening launch (featuring my favorite balloons out of the bunch)!