Happy birthday to the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta!
Europe’s largest ballooning event celebrates its 40th anniversary in southwest England this weekend. This year’s four-day festival at the Ashton Court Estate from Thursday to Sunday, features 140 balloonists from around the world. A half-million people are expected to attend the free fiesta.
To mark its landmark birthday, some favorite balloon shapes are returning to fly ― including Rupert the Bear, Mr. Peanut and the Michelin Man.
Mass ascents are scheduled to take place each afternoon from 6 p.m. local time. They’ll also begin at 6 a.m. local time on Friday, Saturday and Sunday ― which, depending on the wind direction, may give balloonists an eagle’s-eye view of local landmarks such as the Clifton Suspension Bridge.
Two Nightglows ― tethered balloons lighting up in time to a special soundtrack — and fireworks displays are scheduled Thursday and Saturday from 9 p.m. local time.
All activities are weather dependent, however, and could be postponed at a moment’s notice if it’s too windy or rainy. Thursday afternoon and Friday morning’s mass ascents were canceled, due to adverse weather.
Check out photographs from this year’s event below. We’ll add more as the weekend progresses.