UK

Hot air balloons fill sky above Bristol during annual fiesta

Hot air balloons fill the Bristol skyline during the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta (Ben Birchall/PA)
Hot air balloons fill the Bristol skyline during the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta (Ben Birchall/PA) Hot air balloons fill the Bristol skyline during the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta (Ben Birchall/PA)

Dozens of hot air balloons have transformed the skyline during the 45th Bristol International Balloon Fiesta.

More than 50 balloons took part in a mass ascent at Ashton Court Estate, where the popular event takes place, on Friday morning.

Hundreds of fans were up early to watch the first balloons lift off shortly before 7am after strong winds caused Thursday evening’s mass ascent to be cancelled.

Dozens of hot air balloons are inflated ahead of lift off (Ben Birchall/PA)
Dozens of hot air balloons are inflated ahead of lift off (Ben Birchall/PA) Dozens of hot air balloons are inflated ahead of lift off (Ben Birchall/PA)

Half a million visitors are expected to descend on Bristol as it hosts Europe’s largest annual meeting of hot air balloons.

From Thursday to Sunday, more than 100 colourful balloons of all shapes and sizes from across the world will be involved.

Special shaped balloons – including Thomas the Tank Engine, Sonic the Hedgehog, Snow White and a Piggy Bank – are also taking part.

A balloonist tests his burner ahead of Friday morning's mass ascent (Ben Birchall/PA)
A balloonist tests his burner ahead of Friday morning's mass ascent (Ben Birchall/PA) A balloonist tests his burner ahead of Friday morning’s mass ascent (Ben Birchall/PA)

Mass ascents take place at dawn and dusk during the fiesta, which are watched by thousands of people.

The first of the popular nightglows, in which the balloons are illuminated in time to music, was held on Thursday evening with the second taking place on Saturday.