Largest annual balloon gathering in Europe begins at Longleat

Balloons launched this morning ahead of the weekend's festival. Credit: ITV News

More than 70 hot air balloons took off this morning, beginning the three day Longleat Sky Safari.

The ballooning festival is the largest of its kind in Europe and will involve pilots from across the world. It is hoped 150 balloons will fly over the weekend, if the weather holds up.

Longleat staff lead the festival with their own lion shaped balloon, while other animal shapes also participate.

Dozens of balloons were able to tether, with blue skies and barely any wind on the ground. However, due to stronger winds at around 2,500 feet, only the most experienced hot air balloon pilots took to the skies.

How to see the balloons:

  • Tickets or Saturday are sold out but you can catch the show on Sunday.

  • The balloons are best viewed from the lawns at the front of Longleat House.

  • An annual pass allows entry to the Sky Safari.

More than 200 balloons are expected this weekend. Credit: ITV News

Staff at Longleat insist that the balloons do not disturb the animals at Longleat Safari Park and there is a no fly zone over them.