All you need to know about the Bristol Balloon Fiesta 2023

The Bristol Balloon Fiesta 2023 is back! This year the event will take place between Thursday 10th August and Sunday 13th August 2023, meaning 4 days of family fun and hopefully in some Summer sunshine.

The event now in its 44th year was founded back in 1979, initially a small gathering of like minded balloonists at Ashton Court, visitors were able to see 27 different balloons attending the fiesta. The event has grown year on year and has become one of Europe’s largest, free hot air balloon festivals.

Image Copyright: Fresh Aviation Images

The Bristol International Balloon Fiesta now attracts over 100 hot air balloons and is often visited by more than 50,000 visitors during the four day event, visitors travel from all corners of the UK and across Europe to marvel at the hot air balloon displays.

The Bristol Balloon Fiesta has become one of the many icons of Bristol, sitting alongside Wallace and Gromit, Brunel and of course Concorde.

Image Copyright: Fresh Aviation Images

A typical Bristol Balloon Fiesta day starts with the amazing morning mass ascent, as balloons of all shapes and sizes drift away across the city and out into the surrounding countryside. Special shape balloons also take part in the mass ascent. In the early afternoon, as well as marvelling at the tethered balloons, visitors can take the opportunity to chat to pilots and their crews and have a closer look at their equipment in the new event ‘MEET THE TEAMS’. The second mass ascent takes place in the early evening followed on Thursday and Saturday by the legendary and magical night glows, when the balloons light up to a soundtrack provided by BBC Radio Bristol.

The Balloon Fiesta will take place as follows:

Thursday includes model balloon displays in the arena, historic balloon tethering – where special shapes are inflated in the arena – (2pm-4pm), an army parachuting team jumping from planes and balloons (4pm-5pm) and miniature aviation stunts from model planes (5pm-8pm). Then the mass ascent begins (6pm-7pm), before a model hot air balloon glow at 8pm and the iconic Bristol International Balloon Fiesta Night Glow at 9pm.

Friday sees the first early morning mass ascent of the fiesta take place (6am-7am) before more historic special shapes are inflated in the arena (7am-4pm). More model balloons and planes will be displayed (between 7am-9am and 12:30-1:30pm respectively), more parachuting from the army (4-5pm), an inflation race (4:45-6pm) and Friday evening’s mass ascent (6-7pm).

Saturday runs similarly to Friday, with an early morning mass ascent taking place (6am-7am) and more historic balloons inflated in the arena (7am-4pm). Model balloons will stick around for a bit longer (7am-9am, 2-3pm) before putting on their model balloon glow at 8pm, while model planes will take to the arena between 12:30-1:30pm and 5-6pm, the army parachute team take centre stage between 4-5pm, another inflation race gets underway from 4:45-6pm and the Saturday night mass ascent and night glow are scheduled for 6pm and 9pm respectively.

Sunday will be pretty much exactly the same as Saturday, however will not consist of a model balloon glow or main night glow. Two mass ascents take place on the final day of the fiesta – the early between 6 and 7am, and the late between 6 and 7pm.

We will be in attendance at the fiesta to grab some photos and hope to see lots of visitors enjoying the 4 day event. To find out more about the event visit the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta website at

Thanks to Bristol Live for help with this article.