More evidence that ours is a super-soaraway city – as a hot air balloon festival is confirmed for York.
Featuring three days of breathtaking flights and events, the York Balloon Fiesta 2017 will come to Knavesmire this September.
A total of 50 hot air balloons, from all across the UK, will fly across York while a fun packed festival-style weekend takes place below.
Organisers hope the event, the first of its kind in Yorkshire, will attract thousands of visitors – as similar festivals do elsewhere in the country.
‘An amazing event’
The fiesta is the brainchild of hot air balloon pilot and the man behind York business Munchies Cakeaway, Oliver Webb.
Fri Sept 29-Sun Oct 1
“The idea came from the Bristol Balloon Fiesta, which attracts thousands of visitors and residents every year,” he said.
“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.”
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.
They can also enjoy a dazzling Ultra Fibre Optic Night-Glow performance on the Saturday evening. This will see balloons inflated and glowing to a musical soundtrack.
Yorkshire Air Ambulance will fly in on Sunday afternoon, giving you the chance 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.
Managing director of Make It York Steve Brown said he hoped this could become an annual festival every autumn.
“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,” he said.
The York Balloon Fiesta is sponsored by TalkTalk Ultra Fibre Optic Broadband and supported by Make It York.
General manager Richard Sinclair 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.”
Pilots and their teams
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; an amazing quiet and peaceful form of travel.
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.
York’s ballooning history
York’s first experience of hot air ballooning came in 1785, only two years after France’s Montgolfier brothers had invented this form of transport.
It all started at Kettlewell’s Orchard near York Minster. English pioneer balloonist James Deeker brought his “aerostatic globe” up from Norwich to fashionable Georgian York in time for the August race meeting. His partner Mr Weller took the balloon up.
A contemporary report noted that it “seemed to ascend with majestic grandeur but a sudden gust of wind caused the balloon and car to strike against a high wall and a tree, by which they were both much injured”.
In the 19th century the Grand Yorkshire Gala became a highlight of the York year, with stalls, a fireworks display and balloons.