Promising weather forecast for Bristol Balloon Fiesta

Promising weather forecast for Bristol Balloon Fiesta

Posted on: 08 Aug 2017

The spectacular Bristol International Balloon Fiesta returns to Ashton Court from Thursday – and the weather (touch wood) looks like it will be largely suitable for flight.

Bristol Balloons

The third of Bristol’s three main ‘B’s (alongside ‘Bridges’ and ‘Banksy’) is ‘Balloons’, with one of the city’s defining images indubitably a blue sky bursting with a bounty of the hot-aircraft.


With thousands of balloons populating the airways at both dawn and nightfall over four days in mid-August 10th, family-friendly activities will take place at Ashton Court’s ground level as part of the free festival which has been a summer highlight since 1979.


As you might expect, making the requisite preparations for flight is a very delicate business, with launch relying upon a specific set of weather conditions. Before giving balloon-flight the green light, the festival’s flight director Clive Bailey must fastidiously assess several aspects of the immediate weather forecast – these include, though are not limited to, precipitation, surface wind speed, wind speed at height and visibility.


Speaking to the Bristol Post, Mr Bailey said: "The main weather factor for hot air ballooning is the wind. Hot air balloons rely on the wind being light for the first few hours after sunrise and to decrease before sunset, which is why the mass ascents are always planned for 6am and 6pm daily - this is when the air is at its most stable.


"Ideally for a safe and enjoyable flight balloons require the surface wind to be less than 10 knots and ideally less than 20 knots at 2,000 feet."


And, though weather forecasts can never be 100% accurate and are liable to change at a moment’s notice, the current predictions for the Fiesta look positive.

Bristol Balloon Fiesta

According to the BBC, rain is only expected on Friday afternoon and should remain light, meaning that only the evening ascent could be affected. Otherwise, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday are predicted to remain entirely dry, with low surface wind speed at the times of the morning and evening ascents.


This, we must stress, is not definitive and will likely change before the balloons are to go up – but this is a promising sign for the Fiesta.


The main scurries of activity occur at each end of the day, beginning with the 6am launch and closing with the ‘nightglow’, which occurs once darkness has fallen. In between these antipodal points, flights and competitions take place throughout, as well as a heap of fun-filled, family-friendly attractions which have just been announced. Operating at Ashton Court across the weekend will be a big wheel, a circus tent, live bands and appearances from stars of children's television Optimus Prime, My Little Pony and CBeebies favourites - for the little ones.


Balloon voyages can be purchased from Bristol Balloons - for more information on these, click here.


Entry to the event is free, though to guarantee a parking space you have to buy a ticket.


The Bristol Balloon Fiesta takes place between the 10th-13th August. For more information, visit

Article by:

Sam Mason-Jones

An ardent Geordie minus the accent, Sam seemingly strove to get as far away from the Toon as possible, as soon as university beckoned. Three undergraduate years at UoB were more than ample time for Bristol (as it inevitably does) to get under his skin, and so here he remains: reporting, as Assistant Editor, on the cultural happenings which so infatuated him with the city. Catch him at