York Balloon Fiesta draws 25,000 people – despite being a no-fly zone

The night glow on Knavesmire. Photograph: York Balloon Fiesta
30 Sep 2019 @ 2.46 pm
| Entertainment

Some dodgy weather may have seen all the flights cancelled but York Balloon Fiesta was still a success, drawing in about 25,000 people.

The wind and rain made it impossible for any hot air balloons to leave the ground during the three day event which finished on Sunday (29 September).

Organiser John Lowery said they came close to a mass launch on Saturday afternoon “but a narrow band of rain approaching as the pilots would have been inflating meant that the flight had to be cancelled at the very last minute”.

But the fiesta still proved a popular family day out. John said:

  • The weather was dry throughout Friday evening and the sun shone for us on Saturday, which really helped bring out the crowds to enjoy the stunt shows, falconry displays and live entertainment.

    It was a fantastic coup to get Britain’s Got Talent’s Twist & Pulse on the very day that they were appearing in the ‘Champions’ show.

Stunts and tributes

The Labyrinth – the world’s longest continuous inflatable obstacle – was a hit. Photograph: Facebook
After the wind dropped late on Saturday afternoon, visitors were able to see a number of balloons inflated and tethered on the arena.

There was also the return of the Night Glow. Taking place just after 9pm on Saturday, a host of balloons were lit up by their burners in a choreographed display.

A crowd-pleasing performance by Take That tribute band Rule The World followed, before a fireworks and laser display over the Knavesmire.

Last year’s city-wide traffic disruption was avoided. Better signage, prebookable parking, marshalling, public transport and many people walking to the site enabled all attendees to come and go with the minimum of hassle.

Fiesta fireworks. Photograph: Kieran Delaney
John said they’d worked hard to make the event weatherproof: “We’ve increased the size of the fairground, and invited more food vendors to keep queuing to a minimum, and hosted six headline performances on the stage – from Dolly Parton, Freddie Mercury and Abba tributes to CBeebies own Mr Bloom and his band for our younger visitors.

“There’s no other festival in York where you can experience all this free of charge, and we’re delighted that so many people from the city came out to support the event.”