Page last updated at 20:32 GMT, Friday, 8 August 2008 21:32 UK

Thousands attend balloon launch

Hot air balloons at the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta 2008
One of the highlights of this year's fiesta is the specially-shaped balloons

Tens of thousands of people have attended the mass balloon ascent, at the 30th Bristol International Balloon Fiesta.

The 0600 BST launch was abandoned due to strong winds but winds eased during the day, to allow the 1830 BST ascent of more than 100 balloons.

The balloons drifted over the city towards Tog Hill and remained in the air for more than an hour.

A highlight of the evening was the launch of the special-shaped balloons.

These included one balloon in the shape of a giant elephant and another in the shape of a fire extinguisher.

Weekend launches

Pilots will be briefed at the 0600 BST meeting on Saturday, to assess flying safety and to determine if the balloons will be launched.

BBC weatherman Richard Angwin said: "There is a chance that some of the balloons will attempt an ascent on Saturday morning.

MASS BALLOON ASCENTS
Saturday 9 August 0600 and 1800
Sunday 10 August 0600 and 1800

"Although the general weather for Sunday looks better, it is likely that the westerly winds will be too strong to allow any flights to take place."

The festival, which began with just 27 balloons, is now one of world's biggest ballooning events.

Each year more than 500,000 spectators come to see the balloons and experience the two night glows where pilots fire the balloon burners in time to music.

This year the Red Arrows will perform an aerial display on Sunday, the final day of the event.

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Hot-air balloon pilot Jo Bailey talks about the event




SEE ALSO
Wind grounds balloon mass ascent
08 Aug 08 |  Bristol/Somerset
Balloonists celebrate 30 years
07 Aug 08 |  Bristol/Somerset
Balloons' mass ascents over city
10 Aug 07 |  Bristol/Somerset
Balloon made front garden landing
13 Aug 07 |  Bristol/Somerset

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