We booked a day trip to Bristol Balloon Festival with Wicksons whom a company which supply a coach with a driver to drive to the destination. The Bristol Balloon Festival is held at Ashton Court annually and this year is the 35th year of Europe's largest annual hot air balloon event with a mass of hot air balloons, arena and air display. There were lot of trade stands and caterers with a variety of Entertainment from the Radio Heart Station.
The trip to Bristol is £18.00 per person. Our pick up point was at the pub next to Chase Terrace Technology School. It the driver, Roger about one hour to pick up the day trippers from different up points. We reached the Cotswold Garden Center for one hour to stretch the legs and using the toilets facilities or having a cup of tea at the teashop. The garden center had lot of landscape designs display outside the store where we can stroll around and there is the tearoom with a lake behind it and beautiful gardens but we didn't have time to browse or see all of it.
We were been told by Roger that it will take us about one and half hour to reached Ashton Manor and he was looking at the map for which exits as there were several exit for cars and coaches. The road work on the M-motorway and the crowds at the events caused the traffic jam and it took us three and half hours then expected. We reached there around 3.30 p.m. and we were to be back at the coach by 7.30 p.m.
We followed the crowds walk down hill and it took us about 25 minutes walk to the Ashton Manor and walked to the fair where there is lot of entertainments with fast speeds rides, games and foods stands. The foods and drinks were expensive. The crowd at the park bought their chairs and blankets to sit on the grasses and also having picnic and bbq at the ground.
It was another half an hour walk to the arena where the air displays was on all day. We had see the stunning war planes with aerobatics on top of the plane and wings doing their amazing performance for the audiences. The hot air balloons started to roll in around 6.00 p.m. and all the cars and trucks pulling into the arena to set up the hot air balloons. There is two shows on one is 6.00 a.m another is 6.00 p.m. and another mass lit up at 9.30 p.m.
It took about half an hours to set up and about 6.30 p.m. so of the hot air balloons start to for a mass accent. There will be 109 hot air balloon going on till the night lit at 9.30 p.m. The crowds love were calm by hundred of balloons floating in the air. The atmosphere were swell with spirits of happiness, bond of same love and achievements.
By 6.45 p.m. we only able to see about 20 to 30 hot balloons floating in the air and we had to walk back to gate 9 where the coach was parked. Unfortunately, there is road blocked and we had been walking round and round the arena with wrong directions been pointed by the locals.. It took us about one and half hour to find our way to the coach. We had to walk fast like a crazy women and the big crowds around stop our every move.
We were late by 40 minutes and the other trippers and driver weren't so happy about it. The journey back was delay by traffic jammed due to some of lot of the cars were going out and in and also the M-motorway was closed and the driver had to go by longer way. About 2 hours later, our drive need to change another one driver due to there is law for a driver to drive for a max of how many hours on the rad. It us another four hours for dropping the trippers on different drop off points. I had reached my drop off point at 12.30 a.m. and lucky my husband reached home from work and can't find me at home. So he drove to the drop off point to look for me. At last, a happy ending for a happy day.
This is a good value for the day trip but if you want to see the mass accent and night lit up then it is best to go with your car and camping at there where you can enjoy the whole day and night. It is a most beautiful sights which I had ever seen and will go again the next day as it is too amazing experience to miss.
Place: Bristol Balloon Festival - Ashton Manor - 8th to 11th August
Scored: 9 stars
Tour Group : Wicksons
Photos: By Catherine Suen
Date: 10th August 2013