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Up, up and away in Bristol's beautiful balloons

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Up, up and away in Bristol's beautiful balloons


There is a blast of hot air taking over the biggest city in the south west of England.

The 34th Bristol Balloon Fiesta is underway and from modest beginnings in 1979, it has become Europe’s largest hot-air balloon event.

For members of the public who flock to the park to watch, the spectacle is all free.

Simon Forse, who runs Lindstrand Hot-Air Balloons explained: “We have propane in the cylinders around us which provides liquid propane to the burner system. The burner system can release three mega-watts of heat in each side, so it’s a huge amount of power. That’s enough to run a small town.”

When the festival first took off three decades ago, just 27 balloons took to the skies. This time around, up to 150 plan to go up, up and away twice a day, to be taken where the wind wants to take them.

Clive Bailey from Bailey Balloons said: “It’s a floating magic-carpet experience. If you shut your eyes on a calm morning, you wouldn’t know you’ve taken off. Then you open your eyes and you just have the world slowly slipping by. It’s not as if you’re in a plane where it’s all whizzing by, slowly you can pick up all the plough-lines in the fields, you can see the trees, you can see birds’ nests. It’s just a magical experience.”

The fiesta is now firmly established in the summer events diary of the south-west of England, attracting around half a million people over the four days from the UK and beyond.

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