Every day from April to October, weather and wind direction permitting, you can take a balloon flight over Bristol from the historic Ashton Court Estate and view some of Bristol's well-known landmarks from an entirely new angle. Brunel's Clifton Suspension Bridge, the iconic symbol of the city of Bristol, spans the beautiful Avon Gorge and from a hot air balloon, can be appreciated from a completely new perspective. This grade I listed toll bridge designed in 1831 and completed in 1864 after Brunel's death has attracted worldwide visitors for nearly 150 years
If your balloon flight takes you over the historic Bristol Docks you may also see Brunel's equally impressive creation the SS Great Britain, the worlds most exciting and accessible historic ship. The SS Great Britain was launched in 1843 to provide luxury travel to New York, but has been safely returned to its Bristol home since 1970. Moored alongside, when not out sailing is the Matthew a replica of John Cabot's famous ship which sailed to Newfoundland in 1497.
The Wills Memorial Building of the University of Bristol, which was one of the last Gothic buildings in England situated at the top of Park Street towers above the City. Nearby are the beautiful houses of Clifton and the Cabot Tower commemorating the explorer John Cabot's voyage to America in 1497 built in 1897.
With the wind as your guide, your Bristol hot air balloon ride may take you over Temple Meads station, another Brunel construction built as the passenger terminal for Paddington to Bristol of the Great Western Railway. Or perhaps the stunning St Mary Redcliffe Church nearby, Bristol Cathedral or the Victorian terraced houses of Bedminster which is also home to Balloon manufacturers Cameron Balloons
A Bristol balloon ride may also give you a chance to have a spectacular view of two of the other famous West Country bridges, the Severn Bridge and the new Severn Crossing. On a clear day you may even see over to the Welsh Hills. Heading on a more westerly track you might be lucky to have a birds eye view of Tyntesfield House, Wraxall that is a spectacular Victorian country house and estate recently saved by the National Trust with beautiful gardens and architecture.
The breeze could take your flight in any direction, but you can be sure that a launching from Ashton Court will give you breath-taking scenery and views.
A well known operator who flies from Ashton Court and other local take off points is Virgin Balloon Flights and they have a range of hot air balloons carrying up to 16 passengers for every occassion.
Ashton Court Estate is home to the UK's longest running ballooning event, the world famous Bristol International Balloon Fiesta.
The Fiesta is a four-day festival of flying in early August with a non-stop carnival atmosphere attracting half a million visitors each year. The mass launches start an hour after sunrise and 3 hours before sunset, seeing 100 or more hot air balloons take to the sky side-by-side is an unforgettable sight and on the Thursday and Saturday nights the festival is brought to a close with spectacular Night Glows. If you are interested in taking a balloon ride at the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta , Virgin flies from the event each year. Be sure to book well in advance as this is a very popular event.
Another operator of Bristol balloon flights is Bailey Balloons.
Bristol is a vibrant city in the south west of England known for its rich history, thriving cultural scene, and stunning natural surroundings.
Here are some popular things to do in Bristol:
Visit the Clifton Suspension Bridge – an iconic suspension bridge that offers great views of the Avon Gorge and the city.
Explore the historic harbor of Bristol – home to the famous SS Great Britain, an iron steamship designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, and the M Shed, a museum that tells the story of Bristol and its people.
Visit the Bristol Cathedral – a beautiful medieval church with an impressive stained glass window and a history dating back to the 12th century.
Take a walk through the city center – Bristol is home to many beautiful Georgian buildings, such as the Royal West of England Academy and the Bristol City Hall.
Visit the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery – a great place to learn about the city's history and culture, and to see works of art by local and international artists.
Take a trip to the nearby Ashton Court Estate – a beautiful country estate with great walking and cycling opportunities, a deer park, and a Victorian walled garden.
Visit the Banksy's street art – Bristol is home to many works of street art by the famous artist Banksy, including the world-renowned "The Girl with Balloon"
Take a boat trip on the River Avon
Visit the Bristol Zoo Gardens – one of the oldest zoos in the world and home to over 400 species of animals.
Visit the Bristol Old Vic – the oldest continuously-working theatre in the English-speaking world.
These are just a few of the many things to do in Bristol. There are many more activities, events, and attractions to explore, depending on your interests.