1. ITV Report

Balloon Fiesta lifts off

Thousands gather to watch one of the famous mass ascents Photo: Bristol International Balloon Fiesta Ltd

Thousands of people will be heading to the grounds of Ashton Court in Bristol today for the city's biggest event, the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta. Now in its 34th year, the free show

is Europe's largest hot air event and the place to be for some amazing airborne spectacles.

Clifton Suspension Bridge makes the perfect backdrop for a mass balloon flight Credit: Bristol International Balloon Fiesta Ltd

The first of the mass ascents doesn't get underway until tomorrow morning, weather permitting but there's still plenty to see on site, not least the sight of balloon canopies inflating in glorious technicolor.

Up to 150 balloons could take off in the twice-daily lift-offs at 6 am and 6 pm until Sunday night. People get up bright and early to be sure of a good view for the morning flights while Bristol commuters can be treated to quite a show on their way home from work - depending on which way the wind blows.

No less than 13 special shape balloons will be firing up this evening Credit: Steve Parsons/PA Wire

One of the most popular features of the festival is its special shape balloons - remember Bertie Bassett and the Scottish Highlander? 13 of them will be on show this weekend including the George White Motorbike, the Palletways' dragon and of course Churchill the nodding dog. If you see him in the skies, he's actually the height of an office block.

The highlight for many is tonight's world-famous night glow which draws huge crowds to the site. 30 balloons are tethered in the main arena and are lit up in sequence to music. This evening there will be a special British feel to the entertainment but we'll have to wait and see what that involves.

Local brewer, Bath Ales - which is sponsoring the event, has brewed a new beer for the occasion. It's called, rather aptly, Night Glow, and will be on sale to visitors.

Of course, if you can't make tonight there's always Saturday, when the night glow is something of a party affair - festival-goers are being reminded to bring their glow sticks.

Watch out for a British feel to the fiesta's famous night glows - the first of which will take place tonight Credit: Bristol International Balloon Fiesta Ltd

In order for everything to go smoothly, the Clifton Suspension Bridge will be closed from 6pm tonight until 2am tomorrow morning and then again from 6pm on Saturday to 2am on Sunday.

To find out more, check out the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta website

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