If you see a giant Darth Vader head, Simba the lion or a spectacular peacock floating past in the sky, don’t run screaming for the hills.
Just sit back and enjoy the latest Canberra Balloon Spectacular, which brings the world’s most ardent hot air balloon enthusiasts to the Australian capital each year.
The festival kicked off in 1988 when 50 hot air balloons were cast aloft to celebrate Canberra’s 75th birthday — the largest gathering of hot air balloons in the nation’s history, according to the Canberra Times.
Nearly 30 years later the Balloon Spectacular remains a staple on Canberra’s events calendar, attracting participants — and balloons — from around the globe.
As silent as a wisp of mist (with the occasional burst of gas for increased hot air and height), these brilliantly coloured craft revive the old magic and romance of ballooning. In the late 1700s pilots in France carried Champagne with them, to reassure onlookers on the ground they were friends, not foe, and to thank them for safe landing.
The Champagne may not be needed to ensure safe landing these days, but in early autumn each year balloon pilots from around the globe (plus their friends and family) descend on Canberra, bringing with them giant wicker baskets and bright balloon fabrics to join in the fun.
This year’s event will run from March 10 — 18, weather permitting, with the balloons taking off at 6.15am daily from the lawns of Old Parliament House. Surrounded by iconic parliamentary buildings and national attractions, the launch site offers the perfect Canberra backdrop.
Get there early for pole position as a spectator (admission is free) as the crowds of enthusiastic onlookers can be large. Hot breakfast, tea and coffee from the Belconnen Lions Club is available each morning, with live music and entertainment scheduled at weekends.
Canberra Balloon Spectacular 2018 launches on March 10 and continues until March 18. Visit: balloonspectacular.com.au
Take the ride of your life in the Abode Hot Air Balloon. With packages starting from $630 per night in a Premium Studio for 2 adults (includes balloon flights), there’s never been a better time to experience the magic of Canberra from above.
Book your Balloon experience today by calling 1300 1 ABODE (22633).