Over the weekend, despite the unfortunate weather, balloons once again took to the skies to float above Bristol as the Balloon Fiesta returned to the city.
Throughout the year, Bristol hosts all kinds of fantastic events, but many of our most famous events take place during the summer. In just the past few weeks we have had St Pauls Carnival, Pride, the Harbour Festival, and Upfest. But when people think of Bristol, they often think of the iconic balloons which feature on countless mugs, shirts, and tea towels across the world.
Every year, the Balloon Fiesta attracts tens of thousands of tourists to Ashton Court from across the country and around the world. The free event has truly become a staple of our summer events calendar and the weekend was its 40th anniversary year. Although it is Europe’s largest gathering of hot air balloons, the accompanying fairground offered its own entertainment for visitors. While weather for most of the weekend sadly wasn’t suitable for flying, the night glows and even the balloons themselves drew attention – to celebrate the 40 years of the Bristol Balloon Fiesta, 40 special shaped-balloons from over the years returned to Bristol, including Bertie Bassett, the Superbike, and Rupert the Bear.
The Bristol Balloon Fiesta is great for summer entertainment, but it’s also great for Bristol’s economy. In 2017, 500,000 visitors travelled to Bristol for the Fiesta, with 48% of people travelling 50 miles or further. According to the Balloon Fiesta’s 2017 Impact Report, for every £1 spent at the Fiesta, an additional £25 is spent across the local economy, which in total brings about £15 million of net economic benefit to the city which would not have otherwise been spent. Research by Destination Bristol values our entire calendar of world class events as being worth £1.3 billion in 2016, and the tourism industry generates 29,000 jobs for the local area. This is clearly of huge benefit for the people of Bristol. Whether its buying food from local traders, or staying in hotels, tourists are spending their money in Bristol, and this is something I am keen to encourage.
Bristol is a lively and dynamic city with a reputation for unique opportunities you simply can’t find anywhere else. Seeing so many visitors choosing to come to Bristol makes me proud of the city we live in. Our annual calendar continues to deliver the world-class events Bristolians love and are rightly proud of, while also giving domestic and overseas visitors a glimpse of the great culture that thrives and continues to grow in Bristol.
Thank you to everyone who has worked so hard to contribute to this year’s Fiesta, especially the Ashton Court Estate team and the local emergency services. We are indebted to the Board of Trustees and planning of the Organising Committee, namely Don Cameron, Muir Moffat, Joanna Case, Chris Allcock, Clive Bailey, Peter Mossman, Phil Dunnington, Sue Atkinson, Mike Wadsworth, Robert Barnes, Jane Oakland, Emma Custance Baker, Pete Dalby, Ian Martin, and Phil McCheyne, without whom this event would not have been possible. To all who are involved in the local tourism sector, thank you for your part in making Bristol so attractive.
Whether you watched the balloons from Ashton Court or from a window in your own home out of the rain, I hope you were able to enjoy the Balloon Fiesta. Our summer festivities attract tourists from around the world, and also help to make Bristol the vibrant city I am proud to continue working for.