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Balloon Fiesta to lift off in York

The skies of York will be transformed this month with York Balloon Fiesta, a three-day hot air balloon festival. The outdoor event starts on 29 September. The colourful display of balloons will be visible from the Knavesmire, home to York Racecourse.

“The Balloon Fiesta is the first of its kind in Yorkshire,” event organiser and hot air balloon pilot Oliver Webb told Access.

The festival will see a total of 50 hot air balloons coming from all across the UK to fly across York while a festival-style weekend takes place below.

“The idea came from the Bristol Balloon Fiesta, which attracts thousands of visitors and residents every year,” Webb commented. “I have lived in York all my life and wanted to share the city with other balloon enthusiasts. Balloon pilots are passionate about what they do and we’re delighted to welcome these UK balloon teams, as well as one from Belgium, to York this September. It’s going to be an amazing event.”

York Balloon Fiesta is supported by the city’s destination management organisation Make It York and sponsored by TalkTalk Ultra Fibre Optic Broadband. The tech firm will provide a night-glow performance on the Saturday evening.

Richard Sinclair, general manager for TalkTalk’s Ultra Fibre Optic Broadband said: “We’re incredibly proud to be part of such a unique event and we look forward to enjoying the weekend with balloon enthusiasts from across the UK.

“York Balloon Fiesta is also a fantastic opportunity for visitors to meet our Ultra Fibre Optic Broadband team and hear about the steps TalkTalk has taken to transform the city’s digital infrastructure.”

Visitors and residents can watch the balloons lift off from the Knavesmire while they explore the funfair complete with Victorian inspired rides, live music, a beer tent and tasty street food stalls from Yorkshire vendors.

Steve Brown, managing director of Make It York, commented: “York is the perfect place to run a hot air balloon fiesta and it will be a brilliant spectacle to see fifty balloons in the skies above York Racecourse. We hope this festival can grow to become one of the city’s best loved events, drawing thousands of additional visitors every autumn.”

A family-friendly festival, Yorkshire Air Ambulance will fly-in on Sunday afternoon and organisers say kids will get the opportunity to sit in the helicopter.

Yorkshire Fire & Rescue will also have a fire engine on site for the kids to explore and for adults there will be beer and gin tasting throughout Friday and Saturday evening.

Hot air balloons are one of the oldest types of aircraft, based on the principle that hot air rises. They are made of nylon, heated with a burner from a wicker basket and can fly up to two hours.

Public balloon rides will not be available this year as the 50 hot air balloons attending are flown by private pilots for sport. Each balloon taking part in the festival will have a pilot and dedicated ground team with them to help the balloons get airborne.

The balloons will fly twice a day, once just after sunrise then later in the afternoon depending on the weather.