Look to the skies as the sun rises on the 25th March and you will be greeted with a variety of hot air balloons that can be seen drifting gracefully above Hamilton city’s rooftops. This marks the start of the annual Balloons Over Waikato Festival, a five-day event of spectacular hot air balloon displays and challenges.
Big ones, bright ones, crazily shaped ones – they’re all there putting on a magnificent show. Balloons Over Waikato is New Zealand premier ballooning festival, drawing balloons, pilots and enthusiasts from around the world, attracted by the event’s meticulous planning, friendly welcome and ideal flying conditions.
Most mornings during the festival, flotillas of balloons can be seen, silent and majestic above the city and region after rising from Innes Common at Hamilton Lake and following the breeze to wherever it takes them.
More than 130,000 people attended the annual Balloons Over Waikato Festival in 2014 and with the Nightglow event on Saturday alone seeing crowds of around 80,000, 2015 is sure to prove just as popular.
The balloonists drop in to visit schools and parks around the region during the festival as well as take part in a range of competitions, always surrounded by curious on-lookers and professional organisers to ensure safety for all. Each year features at least one special shaped balloon to get people talking, with the 2015 shapes yet to be announced.
As usual 2015 will provide plenty of chances to get up close and personal with the balloonists and their balloons as they slowly inflate before lifting off into the sky.
Each day kicks off with an early morning mass ascension when 30-35 balloons fly out from Innes Common beside Hamilton Lake.
The spectacular Saturday Zuru Nightglow is always a popular event. With the balloons lighting up in night’s sky to music and a dramatic fireworks display to cap everything off.
The festival includes many other events, for a full programme visit the website www.balloonsoverwaikato.co.nz
WIN a Balloons Over Waikato Weekend Escape
Enter the draw to WIN a Balloons Over Waikato ‘Best Seats in the House’ weekend including accommodation, activities, and VIP treatment at the Zuru Nightglow event at the University of Waikato.
There are three family prize packages up for grabs (2 adults, 2 children) and three couples prize packages (2 adults).