Hot air balloons scatter across Bristol skyline to mark fiesta launch

Colourful hot air balloons scattered across the skyline of south-west England to mark the 41st Bristol International Balloon Fiesta.

More than 20 balloons took part in a mass ascent at Filton Airfield at dawn on Monday to pay homage to Concorde.

The supersonic passenger jet’s first British flight took off from Filton in April 1969, while the last Concorde to fly is housed at Aerospace Bristol, next to the runway.

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

This year, the fiesta is celebrating icons of Bristol including Concorde and Aardman Animations, which is celebrating the 30th anniversary of Wallace and Gromit.

Over the course of four days, more than 130 colourful hot air balloons of all shapes and sizes from across the world will attend the event.

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Chris Allcock, chair of the organising committee for Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, said: “This year, the fiesta is dedicated to the city and the icons that make us so proud to call Bristol our home and the home of this special event.

He said that 2019 “is particularly special for the team at Aerospace Bristol as they mark 50 years since Concorde first flew so we were delighted to launch the 41st Fiesta from the iconic Filton Airfield this morning, right next Concorde’s final home”.

The fiesta sees balloons soar from the Ashton Court estate at dawn and dusk, taking in views of the city including the Clifton Suspension Bridge.

Nightglows, in which the balloons are illuminated in time to music, take place at the venue on Thursday and Saturday before firework shows.