The first week of March saw the launch of the eight-day long Annual Canberra Balloon Spectacular. This fiesta has been held annually since 1987 and offers a great way for local crowds to explore the Australian capital from the skies.
The festival kicks off each year from the Patrick White lawns outside the Old Parliament House in Canberra, and this year was no different. Revellers gathered early in the morning to enjoy a hot breakfast and to marvel at the balloons as they prepared for lift off. It was here that nearly 50 pilots prepared to inflate their balloons.
This year, the Spectacular was attended by two special guest balloons – the Skywhale and the Skywhalepapa, which were created by local artist Patricia Piccinini and made an appearance alongside a glorious array of colourful balloons. Some other unusual shapes included a motorcycle helmet, a heart, a unicorn’s head, a frog and a lion.
Visitors to the free balloon festival were able to enjoy the serene beauty of the balloons from various vantage points around Canberra, including the National Arboretum, the shores of Lake Burley Griffin and even on the lake itself. For the adventurous, flights by hot air balloon over the city could be booked to catch the sunrise, the sunset or, for the very enthusiastic, both.
Hot air balloon festivals have an enduring appeal, as they enable people to encounter the majesty of exploring the earth from the skies. There’s no need to head down under to get your fix, however, as in the UK, hot air balloon flights over Bath, Bristol and the south west are available.