Hot air balloons take off from Filton Airfield ahead of Bristol International Balloon Fiesta

Over 20 hot air balloons have taken to the skies this morning, ahead of Bristol's International Balloon Fiesta.

The mass ascent took place at Filton Airfield, next to Aerospace Bristol, to play homage to the 50th anniversary of Concorde.

The event, now in its 41st year, returns to the city on Thursday 8th August and runs until Sunday 11th.

Every year, Europe's largest annual hot air balloon festival sees hundreds of thousands of visitors flock to the grounds of Ashton Court Estate.

Over 130 balloons will be on show over the four day event as well as a funfair and entertainment.

The event kicks off with its traditional special shapes launch on Thursday evening with mass ascents from 6am on Friday, Saturday and Sunday - weather permitting.

When darkness falls on Thursday and Saturday, the world-famous nightglow spectacle takes place with the balloons being lit up to music.

The world-famous nightglow takes place on Thursday and Saturday. Credit: ITV News West Country

This year, organisers are calling on the people of Bristol to help bring a special shaped hot air balloon home to fly over the city for the very first time.

The Darth Vader balloon was built in the city by Cameron Balloons but has never flown over Bristol despite appearing around the world.

Aardman Animations, who are celebrating 30 years of Wallace and Gromit, will also be honoured at this year's fiesta.

The 2019 event will be supporting local charity, St Peter's Hospice for the second year running.