There’s a whole host of festivals that hit Bristol each summer – that’s just one reason why it’s such a popular UK city for minibreaks and summer holidays. We have the Down’s Festival for music lovers and the Harbour Festival for art lovers. If you’re looking for something truly spectacular, there’s always the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta.

This is Europe’s largest annual meeting of hot air balloons. For 2018, over 130 hot air balloons are expected from all over the world. It’s an unforgettable sight you’ll only see in Bristol, and it’s returning to Ashton Court Estate this year to celebrate the iconic event’s 40th anniversary.

It’s available to visit completely free of charge – all you’ll need to pay for is your parking and your accommodation. You’ll naturally be drawn to all the hot air balloons filling the skies, but that’s not all the festival offers. We’ll also see a wonderful selection of trade stands, fairground rides, and family-friendly entertainment.

Arrive on the first day before midday and you’ll still find most of the balloons tethered throughout the afternoon. It’s not until the evening that the first mass ascent takes place alongside a firework finale. There are more lifts and tethering sessions over the next few days, plus a few more firework finales. On the final day of the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, there’s a final mass lift.

If you do make the trip here for the Bristol International Balloon Festival, make sure you stick around to see the famous Night Glows. The balloons will light up the sky in time to music. You’ll see 40 special shapes coming together in the middle of the air – for 2018, these shapes include Mr. Peanut, the Michelin Man, a towering tiered birthday cake, and Simbaloo the Longleat Lion.