There are two ways to enjoy hot air balloons in Canberra – one – take a ride in one, and two – stand or sit and watch them.
Every year in March/April Canberra hosts a balloon spectacular (formally festival, sounds like the organisers may have got carried away with Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge!). For a couple of weeks, up to 50 balloons gather together each morning on the lawns in front of Old Parliament House. The balloons, which come in all colours, shapes and sizes start inflating just after 6am and take to the skies between 6.30 and 7.00. Get these in time to see them inflating and gently drifting skywards, a truly amazing and surreal sight. NOTE: weather permitting and some years are much better than others.
The event has become very popular over the years and breakfast, drinks and on ground entertainment is available until around 10am by which time the balloons will have returned.
The Canberra balloon festival (whoops, spectacular) is one of the top three hot air ballooning festivals in the world. Some of the unusual balloons that have participated in the festival in the past include a pair of dancing honey bees, Vincent Van Gogh’s head, a windmill, a tropical tree, a turtle and a Scottish bagpiper.
While I have not taken to the air, flying over Lake Burley Griffin, Parliament and the other buildings of national significance must rank as one of the more scenic flight routes in the world. Alas still on my to do list.
There are a number of ballooning companies in Canberra all to eager to take you for a ride. Flights are offered (weather permitting) all year round and not just during the festival period. Autumn is certainly the most popular time. Google to find an operator. Flights (45mins – 1hr) cost around $300+ per person.
Wrap up well (especially if you are going up in a balloon) as there is often a chill in the air at this time of year this early in the morning.
Caution: Don’t drive around the city watching the balloons as you drive. You won’t be the first person to have a prang from so doing and get fined for dangerous driving. Pull over and watch.
Take this as a general review on the Balloon Spectacular and watch out for annual additions which more pictures 🙂
Address: Old Parliament House – lawns in front (launch site)
Directions: Lawns in front of Old Parliament House