Bristol International Balloon Fiesta 2022 brings ups and downs for local traders

Despite the evening mass ascents being cancelled, thousands of people attended the four-day event at Ashton Court.

Independent traders have had a mixed reaction to the return of the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta.

Despite the evening mass ascents being cancelled, thousands of people attended the four-day event at Ashton Court.

Traditionally, the balloon fiesta has provided many small local businesses with guaranteed customers as people flock from far and wide to see the ascents.

It was the fourth time Craig Bousfield, from Pankhurst Gallery, had been at the fiesta.

Craig Bousfield from Pankhurst Gallery

"We were here in 2019 and we were weather affected by the wind and rain and mayhem," he said.

"This time around it’s been affected by the heat.

"I think footfall has probably been a little bit lower but it’s been good first thing in the morning and in then again in the evening, so it’s still a good place to be.

“It’s 100% worth coming along."

He described it as a "great" event, adding: “If you haven’t been you should come. If you haven’t seen the ascent in the morning, you’re missing out. If you haven’t seen the night glow, you’re absolutely missing out.

"But the one thing we do need is much better signposting outside. There’s been a lot of complaints from people not being able to find car parking quickly and efficiently."

Nick Smith, from Walking Pet Balloons, has traded at the fiesta for nine years.

He said: “We come back every year, it’s a great festival. It’s been a little bit warm but we’ve got through it. 

Nick Smith from Walking Pet Balloons

“It’s lovely to be back at the festival. It’s been a long time coming. It’s great to be back. 

“It’s nice to be out and about and meeting new faces.

"You can see that people are enjoying it."

But Lisa Cricks, from New Baginings, said her first time trading at the event has been "very disappointing".

"I wouldn’t come again as a trader and I don’t even think I would come as a punter," she said.

"Regardless of the heat, we live in the UK and we have a wet weather plan, we have a dry weather plan.

Lisa Cricks from New Baginnings

“We knew it was coming, we knew it was going to be hot. This isn’t their first time round, this isn’t their first event. They could have done a bit more.

“I’d have liked to have seen shelter for the punters, fair pricing throughout, a fair car park price. We would have all liked to see the shuttle so people could have got here better. I would’ve liked to have seen an event that was linked together as a festival so I just think it’s very disjointed.

“It’s just poor and we expect more.”

Meanwhile Emily Timberlake, who was also trading at the festival for the first time, said it had been a "really successful" weekend.

(From l-r) Sophia Galligan, Emily Timberlake & Lottie Ball from House of Boe.

Emily, from House of Boe stall, said: “It’s really really important to have events like this. It’s so important for people to be able to try stuff and see things for themselves, be out in the sunshine and spend time with people having fun.

"Saturday night was crazy busy, we had queues of people down the bar, people trying to try stuff. It’s been really successful. 

“I definitely want to come again.”