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 22nd 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 23rd 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.
- First Credit Union School Hop - 12pm, Various Hamilton schools
A number of local Hamilton schools will experience the wonder of hot air ballooning when the pilots and crew take their balloons out into the community for the School Hop.
Friday 24th March
- Friday Fly Off - 7:30am, Innes Common, Hamilton Lake
If you missed the first mass morning ascensions then this is your opportunity to catch this unique event.
- Balloons Visit South Waikato - 6pm - 8pm, Tokoroa War 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.
- Balloons Visit Te Kuiti - 6pm - 8pm, Te Kuiti Domain
Balloons Over Waikato returns to Te Kuiti, with food vendors, entertainment and more.
- 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 25th March
- Smartrak 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 26th 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.
More great things to see and do
An event is the perfect excuse to plan a weekend away. Why not explore the city and region while you are here: With everything from underground adventure and Middle-earth movie magic to wildlife encounters and more - there are plenty of great activities to enjoy.
- Free Attractions: From great walking trails and parks to explore, to spectacular waterfalls and more - explore the region on any budget with the great free attractions on offer.
- Waitomo Glowworm Caves: Visit the world famous Waitomo Glowworm Caves and gaze in awe at the galaxy of glowworms.
- Hamilton Gardens: Explore the 2014 International Garden of the year and discover different civilisations and historically important garden styles from the farthest reaches of the world.
- Watiomo Adventures: Get your adrenalin pumping with a zipline into the Lost World Cave with Waitomo Adventures.
- Hamilton Zoo: Get up close and personal with exotic animals such as Lemur and Rhino with Hamilton Zoo's Eye2Eye encounters.
- Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari: Plentiful walks through native forest for close encounters with native birdlife and reptiles.
- Hobbiton Movie Set: Discover movie magic with a guided tour through the permanent Hobbiton Movie Set.
- SKYCITY Hamilton: Check out SKYCITY's new Bowl & Social for ten pin bowling, great food and timezone games.
- Waikato Museum: With top art and history exhibitions, the Waikato Museum is a perfect indoor activity.
- Retail Therapy: Get some retail therapy at NZ's largest shopping complex, Te Awa at The Base.
- Raglan Rock: Get the adrenalin pumping with canyoning adventure abseiling down, jumping off and climbing up waterfalls.
- Lake District Adventures: 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.
- 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.
- Hertz Hamilton: Flying into Hamilton? Grab a rental car from Hertz Hamilton.
- Plus many more options