The 16th annual Leon International Balloon Festival took place in Mexico recently and managed to attract a crowd of over 400,000 spectators.
The festival is the largest hot air ballooning event to take place in Latin America, and is held on an annual basis in the middle of November in Leon, a city based in the central Mexican state of Guanajuato.
In the opening ceremony, Hector Lopez, the Mayor of Leon, paid tribute to those who lost their lives in the major earthquakes that struck the area earlier in the year. A 7.1 magnitude earthquake hit the Mexican capital and surrounding areas in September, killing over 200 people. Mayor Lopez said:
“Through the flight of these balloons, is reborn the strength and spirit of our nation; a nation that dreams big and flies high as the balloons do.”
The festival attracts some of the world’s best balloon pilots, with this year being no exception as pilots from 15 different countries flew at the event. As well as a mass balloon ascent, there was entertainment on the ground to keep attendees amused. Live performances and music took place while the hot air balloons, which came in all kinds of shapes and sizes, filled the skies.
The first fiesta was held back in 2002 with just 20 balloons. It has since evolved into a huge event with more than 200 balloons participating in front of hundreds of thousands of spectators.
The popularity of taking a hot air balloon flight in Bath, Bristol and all over the UK continues to rise thanks to public events such as the annual Bristol International Balloon Fiesta.