We arrived in Bristol late Friday night and Annabelle was so excited about our ‘balloon festival holiday’ she managed to stay awake for the whole two and a bit hour journey.
I set my alarm for 5am on the Saturday morning and checked Twitter to see if the dawn ascent was going ahead. I have to admit, I was happy to see it had been cancelled and I could snuggle back to bed for a few more hours.
When we arrived at the fiesta the weather had improved and it was beginning to look like the start of a perfect day.
We made our way around the festival and made the most of the family activities. One of my highlights has to be the vintage fairground.
We found the members enclosure, which was a nice escape from the crowds and a great place to meet other sponsors and bloggers. It was great to see lots of them had also come with their families.
I had the pleasure of meeting bloggers Liska, Jane and Becky I want to say a big thank you to them for inspiring me to start writing again. What lovely ladies you are. Thank you all for your words of wisdom.
Annabelle had been asking to see a balloon all day, but I didn’t expect the first one we saw to be a miniature balloon! (http://www.modelballoonsuk.com) I didn’t know these existed. They look so much fun and my husband (Adam) was straight online trying to find out how much they cost. (I think they were in the thousands so he soon gave up!).
It was soon time for me to get down on the field for the mass ascent. Unfortunately, due to safety reasons, children weren’t allowed to take part. I left Adam and Annabelle in the members enclosure to watch from afar while they tucked into some fish & chips.
Out on the field hundreds of balloons were being laid out. It looked like a giant patchwork quilt in the making. The crowd was buzzing, waiting to hear an update about the flying conditions. Suddenly there was a huge cheer as a cloud of green smoke was released and they announced that the balloons could fly!
I was lucky enough to be joined by the Bailey Balloons team, who were setting up our two Red Letter Days balloons ready for flight. It was so busy and there was so much going on around me, I was worried about getting in the way, but they couldn’t have made me feel more welcome and got me involved in all the preparation stages. It was truly fascinating.
One by one the balloons drifted up into the sky and I was right in the heart of the action. It was mesmerising and an experience I will never forget.
The grand finale was the Night Glow and wow it did not disappoint! The balloons began to glow to the beat of the music and this time I had Adam and Annabelle with me to share this magical moment amongst the balloons.
I highly recommend this festival as a great day out for all the family and will be returning.
I’ll leave you with my top tips if you visit next year:
- Check Twitter updates about the dawn ascent before jumping out of bed. These are often cancelled due to the weather conditions.
- Stop for cash before you get there. We did find a cash machine, but it charged £2.75 to make a withdrawal.
- Take a picnic and blanket. There are plenty of food stalls around the event, but you’ll save yourself a lot of money and a festival picnic is what it’s all about!
- If you are lucky enough to visit on a sunny day, there aren’t many places to escape the heat. Pack your sun cream, hat and sunglasses and if you’ve got a pop up beach tent bring it along.
- Take a portable charger. You will need it after all the photos, videos and social media sharing!
- There is no wifi so bear that in mind if you’re hoping to get online. The network completely shut down when the balloons were out, due to the huge number of people trying to share the moment on their phones.
- The members enclosure – we were lucky enough to have access to this private area, which was a real treat. It’s the big white marquee in the fenced off area. If you want to get up close to the balloons or simply escape the crowds and relax on a sofa or picnic table, this is the place to be. You need to pay extra for this package or be one of the event sponsors to gain access.
- Leave before or during the fireworks. After the night glow we went back to the car to watch the fireworks. This gave us a head start on the crowds all leaving at the same time.