Bristol International Balloon Fiesta History
In the 1960's Don Cameron came to Bristol to join the Bristol Aeroplane Company. Some days Don Cameron would go to the Gliding Club, and in the bar many aeronautical adventures were planned. One of the members of the Gliding Club got a magazine showing the new type of ballooning that had just been invented in America. Seven members of the gliding club liked the idea of building Western Europe's first modern hot air balloon. Eventually they made the balloon there selves and it is called the Bristol Belle and is registered G-AVTL. The members that helped to create this hot air balloon all learnt to fly in it. Afterwards Don Cameron built more hot air balloons and in 1970 Don resigned from his actual job and founded Cameron Balloons.
Don Cameron did a few balloon challenges (e.g. flying over the Atlantic). In 1978 he did a talk about his adventures and in the pub that evening he was speaking to a few people. They discussed the possibilities of having a balloon meeting and this is how the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta started. The next year in 1979, balloons gathered at Ashton Court between the 7-9 September. There was 27 balloons there in the first year, most being local balloonists, but some coming from as far as Germany to take part in the event. Over 100 flights took place during those three days and it was a great success!
Now Bristol is known around the world for hot air ballooning. The Bristol International Balloon Fiesta got larger and larger after 1979 and it has now grown to be Europe's largest hot air balloon festival, and the second largest in the world behind Albuquerque in Mexico. Cameron Balloons make the majority of the worlds hot air balloons! Over 500,000 people visit the fiesta over the four days! It is now always held in the second week of August, not September like it was in its earlier years. The fiesta reached its climax in the late 1990's, with all the classic special shapes like Sonic the Hedgehog and it's still a fantastic day out for everyone as up to 100 balloons will take off from every launch (weather permitting).
Though, the fiesta now has lots of things not to do with the balloons like a fun fair, so if you come to the fiesta make sure you check out the balloons in the arena, as that is a world class show.
Luckily this website is all about the balloons, so have a look around! If you have any queries please contact me.