August 12, 2017 05:19 GMT by dailymail.co.uk

Bristol International Balloon Fiesta kicks off

Bristol International Balloon Fiesta kicks off

Friday’s mass launch – the first flight of the festival – saw 104 hot air balloons set off from the Ashton Court Estate in Bristol at dawn.

More than 100 colourful balloons of all shapes and sizes scattered across the skyline of South West England after a mass launch.

Thousands of visitors will descend on Bristol this weekend as the city plays host to the 39th Bristol International Balloon Fiesta.

Europe's largest ballooning event features four days of displays by more than 130 balloons from across the world.

Hot air balloons fly over the city of Bristol during the first mass ascent, where balloons from all over the world gather at Ashton Court to take part in the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta

Hot air balloons fly over the city of Bristol during the first mass ascent, where balloons from all over the world gather at Ashton Court to take part in the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta

Friday's mass launch – the first flight of the festival – saw 104 hot air balloons set off from the Ashton Court Estate in Bristol at dawn.

Organisers were forced to cancel a mass ascent on Thursday evening due to strong winds but conditions were 'perfect' on Friday.

Pilot Chris Hathaway, 42, of Tetbury, Gloucestershire, has been flying in the fiesta for the past 15 years.

'The conditions were perfect – you couldn't get much better than that,' he said.

Thousands of visitors will descend on Bristol this weekend as the city plays host to the 39th Bristol International Balloon Fiesta

Thousands of visitors will descend on Bristol this weekend as the city plays host to the 39th Bristol International Balloon Fiesta

Europe’s largest ballooning event features four days of displays by more than 130 balloons from across the world

Europe’s largest ballooning event features four days of displays by more than 130 balloons from across the world

Friday’s mass launch – the first flight of the festival – saw 104 hot air balloons set off from the Ashton Court Estate in Bristol at dawn

Friday’s mass launch – the first flight of the festival – saw 104 hot air balloons set off from the Ashton Court Estate in Bristol at dawn

Mr Hathaway added: 'This is a team effort. People always just see the pilot and the balloon but without the crew, I wouldn't be able to do it.

'We really enjoy the fiesta. We come back each year because we always have a fantastic time.'

Mr Hathaway's balloon landed in a field in Cadbury Heath, Bristol, where young children ran to greet him and help deflate it.

Some had been driven across Bristol by their parents, tracking the David Hathaway Logistics balloon as it soared above the city.

Organisers were forced to cancel a mass ascent on Thursday evening due to strong winds but conditions were 'perfect' on Friday

Organisers were forced to cancel a mass ascent on Thursday evening due to strong winds but conditions were 'perfect' on Friday

Pilot Chris Hathaway (not pictured), 42, of Tetbury, Gloucestershire, has been flying in the fiesta for the past 15 years. 'The conditions were perfect – you couldn't get much better than that,' he said

Pilot Chris Hathaway (not pictured), 42, of Tetbury, Gloucestershire, has been flying in the fiesta for the past 15 years. 'The conditions were perfect – you couldn't get much better than that,' he said

The experienced pilot said taking off with more than 100 other balloons was different from usual ascents.

'You have to be careful about all the other balloons around you – you can't take off into another balloon,' he added.

'It is quite intense but you do get used to it after a while. You're also taking off in a very small space.

'You're surrounded by other people doing their own thing and have to be very aware of what is going on.'

The experienced pilot said taking off with more than 100 other balloons was different from usual ascents

The experienced pilot said taking off with more than 100 other balloons was different from usual ascents

'You have to be careful about all the other balloons around you – you can't take off into another balloon,' he added 

'You have to be careful about all the other balloons around you – you can't take off into another balloon,' he added 

'It is quite intense but you do get used to it after a while. You're also taking off in a very small space. You're surrounded by other people doing their own thing and have to be very aware of what is going on'

'It is quite intense but you do get used to it after a while. You're also taking off in a very small space. You're surrounded by other people doing their own thing and have to be very aware of what is going on'

 Various brands, including Virgin (pictured), join ballooning enthusiasts to display their vivid and colourful designs

 Various brands, including Virgin (pictured), join ballooning enthusiasts to display their vivid and colourful designs

A person helping to inflate this mammoth balloon is dwarfed by it as it prepares to float up into the skies on Friday

A person helping to inflate this mammoth balloon is dwarfed by it as it prepares to float up into the skies on Friday

Passengers in a basket admire the view on what one pilot described as a day with the 'perfect' weather conditions

Passengers in a basket admire the view on what one pilot described as a day with the 'perfect' weather conditions

And what a view! Painted houses in Bristol's terraced streets make for an eye-popping arrangement 

And what a view! Painted houses in Bristol's terraced streets make for an eye-popping arrangement 

Neatly arrangeed allotment gardens are seen from the above in these aerial snaps taken by airborne photographers

Neatly arrangeed allotment gardens are seen from the above in these aerial snaps taken by airborne photographers

Spectators were up early in the morning to gaze up as the launch got underway over Bristol's iconic suspension bridge 

Spectators were up early in the morning to gaze up as the launch got underway over Bristol's iconic suspension bridge 

Bristol is regarded by many as the home of modern ballooning, and this event marks the festival's 39th consecutive year

Bristol is regarded by many as the home of modern ballooning, and this event marks the festival's 39th consecutive year

In the past, crowds have exceed 100,000 people on each of the festival's four days, with numbers growing annually

In the past, crowds have exceed 100,000 people on each of the festival's four days, with numbers growing annually

Popular, too, is the attraction's 'night glow', when balloons are inflated and glow to music as the sun sinks out of sight

Popular, too, is the attraction's 'night glow', when balloons are inflated and glow to music as the sun sinks out of sight

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