'We’re very excited': Bristol Balloon Fiesta to host national championships

Credit: PA

The Bristol International Balloon Fiesta will host a longstanding ballooning competition for the first time this year.

The British National Hot Air Balloon Championships, also called The Nationals, began in the 1970s and will see approximately fifteen teams of balloonists take flight twice daily.

It will be the first time the competition has taken place in Bristol.

As part of the championships, the teams of balloonists will be tasked with challenges, such as dropping markers and making 180-degree turns.

Bristol Balloon and Airship Club chairman, Stephanie Hemmings, said: “We’re very excited to host this year’s National Championships for the first time ever in Bristol alongside the Fiesta.”

While the main Fiesta will take place over three days from Friday 9 to Sunday 11 August, the championships will run from Tuesday 6 August to Sunday 11 August.

The Bristol Balloon Fiesta is a well-loved event in the West Country. Credit: PA Images

The event will be an addition to the Fiesta’s new ‘Fiesta Week’ community launch programme, which aims to provide the people of Bristol with more chance than ever to see balloons in flight, weather permitting.

Teams from across the world will compete at the competition, with the British winner of the Nationals picked to fly for Team GB Ballooning and compete in the World Championships.

Ms Hemmings added: “It will be a new challenge to fly over the city and will undoubtedly show the high levels of skill from teams both from the UK and across the world.

"We can’t wait to kick things off in August.”

Ben Hardy, executive director of the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta commented: “We’re of course delighted to welcome the British National Hot Air Balloon Championships to the Fiesta and to the world capital of hot air ballooning, Bristol.

“The Fiesta is a celebration of the city’s rich balloon history and the love so many have for the sport.

"To provide the opportunity to show some of the most exciting and captivating action ballooning has to offer is an incredible addition to the programme.