Check out the full line-up of events on during the Balloons Over Waikato Festival, from mass morning ascensions to evening shows, community events and much more.
Wednesday 21st March
- The Hamilton Mass Ascension - 7:30am, Innes Common, Hamilton Lake
Mark the start to the festival with the mass inflation of balloons at Innes Common at Hamilton Lake. Take the entire family and marvel at the breath-taking sight as the balloons lift off.
Thursday 22nd March
- Wel Energy Trust Breakfast at Dawn - 6:30am, Innes Common, Hamilton Lake
Take the family to watch the balloons lift off just as dawn breaks. The first 2,000 will also enjoy a free breakfast.
Friday 23rd March
- First Credit Union Friday Fun Day - 7:30am, Innes Common, Hamilton Lake
More info comming soon on this event
- Balloons Visit South Waikato - 6pm - 8pm, Tokoroa Memorial Sports Ground
Sharing the joy of the Balloons Over Waikato event with the wider Waikato region, this evening includes food vendors, entertainment and hot air balloons, including the walk through balloon.
- The City Burn & Markets - 6pm - 8pm, Garden Place, Hamilton
Balloons Over Waikato heads into the heart of Hamilton city for the City Burn event on Friday night. The carnival atmosphere includes live entertainment, delicious food from Gourmet in the Gardens vendors and a choreographed basket burn.
Saturday 24th March
- McDonald's Hamilton Cash Grab Competition - 7:30am, Innes Common, Hamilton Lake
A unique feature of the festival, the Cash Grab event will see the balloon pilots test their skills as they try to remove $1,000 from the top of a pole in the middle of Hamilton Lake.
- Zuru Nightglow - 4pm - 9pm, University of Waikato, Hamilton
The biggest night of the festival is the Zuru Nightglow. With carnival rides and games, food vendors, live music and the stunning Balloon Glow Show which will have the balloons lighting up to music, topped off with a fireworks display to wrap up the evening.
Sunday 25th March
- The Great Grassroots Trust Finale - 7:30am, Innes Common, Hamilton Lake
The festival wraps up with the final mass morning ascension form Innes Common at Hamilton Lake.
Make the most of your short escape with these great activity suggestions. From underground wonders and Middle-earth Movie Magic to wildlife encounters, kayak trips and much more.
- Waitomo Glowworm Caves: Visit the world famous Waitomo Glowworm Caves and gaze in awe at the galaxy of glowworms.
- Hobbiton Movie Set: (pictured) Discover movie magic with a guided tour through the permanent set as seen in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit film trilogies.
- Hamilton Gardens: Explore the award-winning Hamilton Gardens and discover different civilisations and historically important garden styles from the farthest reaches of the world.
- SKYCITY Hamilton: Check out SKYCITY Hamilton's new Bowl & Social for ten pin bowling, great food and timezone games.
- Watiomo Adventures: Get your adrenaline pumping with a zipline, abseil or black water rafting trip with Waitomo Adventures, or try their newest family friendly tour, the Troll Cave.
- Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari: Discover Plentiful walks through native forest for close encounters with birdlife and reptiles.
- Hamilton Zoo: Get up close and personal with exotic animals such as Lemur and Rhino with a Eye2Eye encounter at Hamilton Zoo.
- Waikato Museum: With top art, history and interactive kids exhibitions the Waikato Museum is a perfect indoor activity for the entire family.
- Hampton Downs: Challenge friends and family to a few laps of go karting at Hampton Downs.
- Good George Brewery: Learn all about the brewing process and their award-winning beers with a Brewery Tour, or enjoy a bite to eat in the dining hall.
- Zealong Tea Estate: Treat yourself to a high tea overlooking the stunning tea plantation.
- Raglan Rock: Get the adrenaline pumping with canyoning adventure abseiling down, jumping off and climbing up waterfalls.
- Raglan Kayak & Paddleboard: Explore Raglan's limestone coast with kayak & paddleboard tours and rentals.
- Raglan Surf School: Learn to surf on Raglan's world famous left-hand surf breaks.
- Lake District Adventures: (pictured) Take a magical glowwom kayak tour on Lake Karapiro, or hire some bikes to explore the Waikato River Trails.
- Plus much more.
From inner city hotels and motels to rural lodges and beachside holiday parks, the region boasts a range of accommodation to suit all budgets and tastes.
- Novotel Tainui Hamilton: On the banks of the Waikato River, within a short distance of the Hamilton City section of the Te Awa cycleway, Novotel offers all the creature comforts of a large hotel.
- Sudima Hotel Hamilton: In the heart of Hamilton City, Sudima Hamilton is walking distance to all major restaurants and entertainment destinations.
- Distinction Hamilton Hamilton: (pictured) Boasting 147 rooms and suites, many refurbished in 2017, free unlimited Wi-Fi, restaurant & bar, fitness centre, indoor swimming pool & spa pools.
- Ibis Tainui Hamilton: The hotel presents the only restaurant in the city with breath taking views of the Waikato River - a great place to enjoy unique local flavors
- Ventura Inn & Suites Hamilton: A warm welcome that's worth checking into - Ventura is great value accommodation for a night away.