Balloonists help deflate the Bristol Belle, the first modern balloon in Western Europe that was built in 1967, at the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta at the Ashton Court estate on August 12, 2010 in Bristol, England.
Credit: Matt Cardy

Held during August in Bristol, England, the Bristonal International Balloon Fiesta hosts as many as 100 colorful balloons as they take to the sky. This year upwards of 500,000 people are expected to attend the international four-day hot-air ballooning event. The event which started in 1978 now attracts balloon teams from as far as the United States, Dubai, France and Switzerland and runs until Sunday.     

The event — first held in 1979 — is now one of the largest in Europe. One popular attraction is the "night glow," when balloons are inflated and glow to music after dark and are followed by fireworks.  

  • A balloonist fires his burners as he prepares to take-off at the dawn mass ascent at the 31st Bristol International Balloon Fiesta on August 7, 2009 in Bristol, England. Perfect flying conditions allowed over 100 balloons, of all shapes and sizes, to fly this morning at what has become Europe's largest hot air balloon festival.
    Credit: Matt Cardy
  • Hot-air balloons begin to rise during the early morning mass assent which saw over 60 balloons launched at the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta at the Ashton Court estate on August 12, 2011 in Bristol, England.
    Credit: Matt Cardy
  • A hot air balloon is inflated during the 32nd Bristol International Balloon Fiesta at the Ashton Court Estate in Bristol on August 12, 2010.
    Credit: BEN STANSALL
  • Hot air balloons fill the sky at the early morning mass balloon ascent kicking off the second day of the Discovery Channel International Balloon Fiesta on August 12, 2005 in Bristol, England.
    Credit: Matt Cardy
  • Pilot John Sproat adjusts the burners as hot-air balloons begin to rise into the early morning sky during the mass assent at the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta at the Ashton Court estate on August 13, 2010 in Bristol, England.
    Credit: Matt Cardy
  • Hot-air balloons begin to rise into the early morning sky during the mass assent at the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta at the Ashton Court estate on August 13, 2010 in Bristol, England.
    Credit: Matt Cardy
  • A balloonist checks ropes inside his balloon as he prepares to take-off at the dawn mass ascent at the 31st Bristol International Balloon Fiesta on August 7, 2009 in Bristol, England. Perfect flying conditions allowed over 100 balloons, of all shapes and sizes, to fly this morning at what has become Europe's largest hot air balloon festival.
    Credit: Matt Cardy
  • Hot air balloons are inflated in front of Bristol Cathedral on August 9, 2010 in Bristol, England. The dawn flight was a preview for the International Balloon Fiesta which opens in Bristol this week and will see balloon teams from across the world gather in the city. The 2010 Fiesta also marks the 50th anniversary of the modern balloons, using propane and a nylon envelopes.
    Credit: Matt Cardy
  • A balloonist holds onto a tethering rope as hot-air balloons begin to rise into the early morning sky during the mass assent at the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta at the Ashton Court estate on August 13, 2010 in Bristol, England.
    Credit: Matt Cardy
  • A man adjusts ropes on a balloon participating in the mass early morning ascent at the Discovery Channel International Balloon Fiesta on August 10 2007 in Bristol, England. More than 100 balloons took to the skies in what has become the UK's largest balloon fiesta.
    Credit: Matt Cardy
  • Pilot John Sproat adjusts the burners as hot-air balloons begin to rise into the early morning sky during the mass assent at the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta at the Ashton Court estate on August 13, 2010 in Bristol, England.
    Credit: Matt Cardy
  • Balloonists help deflate the Bristol Belle, the first modern balloon in Western Europe that was built in 1967, at the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta at the Ashton Court estate on August 12, 2010 in Bristol, England.
    Credit: Matt Cardy
  • Balloons are tethered on the ground forthe preview flight at the Discovery Channel International Balloon Fiesta on August 7 2007 in Bristol, England. The threat of bad weather meant balloons were grounded for a second day.
    Credit: Matt Cardy
  • Crowds watch as tethered balloons are illuminated by their burners during the nightglow evening event at the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta at the Ashton Court estate on August 12, 2010 in Bristol, England.
    Credit: Matt Cardy
  • A balloons begin to rise and take-off at the dawn mass ascent at the 31st Bristol International Balloon Fiesta on August 7, 2009 in Bristol, England. Perfect flying conditions allowed over 100 balloons, of all shapes and sizes, to fly this morning at what has become Europe's largest hot air balloon festival.
    Credit: Matt Cardy
  • A hot air balloon flies above Bristol city centre on August 9, 2010 in Bristol, England. The dawn flight was a preview for the International Balloon Fiesta which opens in Bristol this week and will see balloon teams from across the world gather in the city.
    Credit: Matt Cardy
  • Balloons participating in the mass early morning ascent start to rise in to the skies above Ashton Court at the Discovery Channel International Balloon Fiesta on August 10 2007 in Bristol, England.
    Credit: Matt Cardy
  • Hot air balloons take to the sky at The Bristol International Balloon Fiesta on 15th August 1990 at Ashton Court, Bristol, Great Britain.
    Credit: Bob Martin
  • A spectator watches the hot air balloon night glow during the 32nd Bristol International Balloon Fiesta at the Ashton Court Estate in Bristol on August 12, 2010.
    Credit: BEN STANSALL
  • Crowds watch as tethered balloons are illuminated by their burners during the nightglow evening event at the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta at the Ashton Court estate on August 12, 2010 in Bristol, England.
    Credit: Matt Cardy

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