York Balloon Fiesta may not return in 2019 after sparking ‘traffic gridlock’

It was almost too successful – and that might mean York Balloon Fiesta won’t return in 2019.

While the hot air balloon pilots had the freedom of the skies, the festival’s popularity led to traffic problems for motorists and bus passengers on the ground.

The fiesta, which took place on the weekend of September 29, led to severe delays on the roads and caused “gridlock” in the city centre according to First York, which tweeted that services were running an hour late.

At a council meeting on Tuesday (December 11), managing director of Make It York Steve Brown said it was still “to be decided” if the event will return in 2019.

By no means definite

Photograph: James Drury Photography
Steve Brown told the meeting:

  • The organiser was a bit bruised by what happened on the Saturday as we brought York to a standstill.

    We’ve worked very closely with him and it’s hard work for him.

    I think he’s debating whether to have a year off and come back in 2020 or to bring it back next year, so it’s by no means a definite for 2019.

    If it does come back, sitting down with [bus company] First group and working out how we do transport better is the first conversation.

Leader of City of York Council Ian Gillies said the festival was a big success and the local authority had to take some share of responsibility for the transport problems.

“We got that sorted out on the second day,” he said. “I think the council have to take some responsibility for that as well.”

Related YorkMix stories