Bristol Balloon Fiesta flypast for socially-distant festival

113789588 balloons2 - Bristol Balloon Fiesta flypast for socially-distant festival
Image caption The balloons took off from Ashton Court shortly after 06:30 BST

Hot air balloons have filled the skies over Bristol in the city’s first balloon fiesta flypast.

The spectacle was organised as this year’s Bristol International Balloon Fiesta could not take place like usual because of Covid-19 restrictions.

Organisers kept the launch location “top secret” and urged people to watch on Monday morning from their homes.

“We are bringing the balloon fiesta to everyone’s doorstep,” said operations director Ben Hardy.

Image caption Bristol International Balloon Fiesta had been due to be held between 6 and 9 August

The event normally attracts about 500,000 visitors but social distancing guidelines prevented the fiesta from being held this year.

However, the flypast allowed people living nearby to watch 43 balloons float over the city from a safe distance.

Image caption A smiling face created by aircraft pilot Richard Goodwin greeted the balloons

“Under top secret guise we’re launching balloons to sort of say ‘hello Bristol’ and lift the city’s spirits a little bit,” said Mr Hardy.

“It’s a magnificent sight. They are all local pilots and they all wanted to come together to at least mark this year’s event for us.

“We’re asking Bristol to go on their doorstep or into their back garden and hopefully see this magnificent sight that they are so used to but sadly we can’t bring in its full glory.”

A virtual nightglow, when tethered balloons light their burners in time to music, will take place at a private location and will be available to watch online on Saturday.

Image caption The event is the largest annual hot air balloon event in Europe and normally attracts more than 500,000 visitors each year
Image copyright Bristol International Balloon Fiesta
Image caption The balloons ready to launch with a spectacular sunrise
Image caption Residents were encouraged to watch the spectacle from their own homes and gardens

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