Around 200 hot air balloons took to the skies above the city of Leon recently, as the annual International Balloon Festival got underway in Mexico.
More than 400,000 spectators gathered at what is the largest hot air balloon festival in Latin America, to watch the mass balloon launch. This featured a number of traditional hot air balloons, alongside a set of novelty designs that included shapes like SpongeBob SquarePants and Mickey Mouse, as well as a giant whale.
The moment the balloons launched into the Mexican skies was captured in a series of pictures and videos that can be found online.
Hot air balloon pilots from more than 15 countries were in attendance at the Leon festival this year, which is a vast improvement from the event’s first year back in 2002, when only 27 balloons exhibited and there were far fewer international pilots.
The ballooning celebration provides local businesses with a huge boost in their profits. It was claimed by the festival organisers that the area’s hotels were booked to full capacity during the course of the event.
Speaking to the Daily Mail before the event, Manuel Lopez, the Leon Tourism Secretary, said:
“This year we are expecting 430,000 visitors, with an economic gain of some 500 million pesos.”
This translates to roughly £23.1m being poured into the Leon economy.
Of course, hot air balloon festivals are big business all over the world, and it is possible to embark on hot air balloon rides in Bristol, Bath and beyond, if you don’t want to travel as far as Mexico.