Bristol Balloon Fiesta 2023: flight times, road closures and best places to watch

Tom Wren / SWNS
Are you ready for the biggest hot air balloon show of the year

It’s what we love in Bristol, and it’s taking place this weekend. The Bristol International Balloon Fiesta returns - and this year it is over four days, starting on Thursday (August 10).

The event promises to provide fun for all the family with morning and evening ascents, all-day entertainment and the must-see nightglow. And if you can’t make it to Ashton Court, you can always see the spectacle from across the city at one of the many viewing points.

With thousands of people coming, a huge travel plan will be in place with car parking, shuttle buses put on and some road closures. So take the sting out of the researching this huge event and see our guide below with times, activities, road closures and more information on those ascents.

What’s happening each day

It all begins on Thursday, from 1pm, with a display of model balloons in the main arena in Ashton Court. This will be followed by historic balloon tethering at 2pm, a parachute display at 4pm, model plane flyover at 5pm and special shape tethering at 6pm. Then at 6pm there will be the mass ascent with up to 100 balloons set to take to the sky. The nightglow will then take place at 9pm.

On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, a mass ascent goes in the morning at 6am. There will be historic balloon tethering and a model plane flyover at 7am. At 1.30pm, the historic balloons will be tethered again before the parachute display at 4pm. At 6pm there will be the mass ascent. On Saturday, a nightglow will take place at 9pm.

What else is taking place

There will be around 100 traders selling a whole range of items from food to drink, plus activities will be put on for families and children of all ages at the Brizzle Kicks area. Local bands will also be playing at the event’s acoustic bandstand.

Tom Wren / SWNS

How to get there

All means of transport have been considered for people getting to the event. For those arriving by car, there are two main car parks, one at the blue gate (short walk to the site and costing £30) and the other from the red gate (a slightly longer walk and costing £25). There are also car parks for disabled and motorbikes.Directions to the car parks will be signposted from all routes to the fiesta,

There is also a shuttle bus taking people from Bristol Temple Meads and Queen Square from 11.30am on Thursday and 10am on Friday, Saturday and Sunday at regular intervals. The bus also offers a return to the pick-ups. It is £5 for an adults, children under 16 go free. Tickets should be booked here.

Cyclists can take the Festival Way or National Cycling Route 33 from the city centre to Ashton Court Estate. For those walking, they can take the same routes, or go over the Clifton Suspension Bridge (although this closes from 6pm until midnight 6.00pm on Thursday and Saturday).

Tom Wren / SWNS

Road closures

The Clifton Suspension Bridge will be closed between 6pm until midnight on Thursday and Saturday. There are various other road closures in place around Ashton Court Estate so motorists are asked to follow the traffic signs.

Best places to watch outside event

You don’t have to join the crowds to see the spectacle - aim for an open space which is high up, and you’re proabably in a good location. Here are the tried and tested locations we’ve been to: Bedminster Down, Dundry Hill, Victoria Park, Leigh Woods, Clifton Observatory, Perrett Park.