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 16th 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 17th 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 18th March
- The Great Grassroots Lift 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
For the first time, Balloons Over Waikato will also be visiting Te Kuiti, with food vendors, entertainment and the 2016 special shapes.
- 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 19th 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 20th March
- Gallagher Foundation & 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
If you are visiting from our of town for the Balloons Over Waikato Festival, why not explore 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.
- Waitomo Glowworms: Visit the world famous Waitomo Glowworm Caves - sure to be a hit with all ages.
- Black Water Rafting: Get your adrenalin pumping with a Black Water Rafting trip with Waitomo Adventures - perfect for the older kids
- Animal Encounters: Get up close and personal with exotic animals such as Lemur and Rhino at Hamilton Zoo
- Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari: Plentiful walks through native forest for close encounters with native birdlife and reptiles
- Middle-earth: Discover movie magic with a guided tour through the now permanent Hobbiton Movie Set
- Waikato River Explorer: Experience the unique beauty of the Waikato River with a cruise on the Waikato River Explorer
- Inner City Fun: Challenge family and friends to a friendly game of ten-pin bowling or enjoy the dining options on offer at SKYCITY Hamilton
- Zealong Tea Estate: Take some time for yourself and discover NZ's only Oolong Tea Plantation and enjoy high-tea at the cafe
- Waikato Museum: With great interactive children's exhibitions, the Waikato Museum is a perfect indoor activity
- Te Aroha Mineral Spas: Soothe those aching muscles after a long rider with a soak in the Te Aroha Mineral Spas.
- Retail Therapy: Get some retail therapy at NZ's largest shopping complex, Te Awa at The Base
- 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, Novtel 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 resturants and entertainment destinations.
- Bella Vista Hamilton: A short ride from the Hamilton section of Te Awa, Bella Vista Hamilton offers motel accommodation which caters for cyclists.
- Te Aroha Landing: Neslted on the banks of the Waihou River in Te Aroha, Te Aroha Landing is the prefect accommodation option for this riding the Hauraki Rail Trail.
- 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
- Plus many more options