15 February 2021

Balloon Spectacular puts Canberra's hot air to good use

| Dominic Giannini

Canberra’s Balloon Spectacular will still be going ahead in March but with reduced numbers. Photo: Jack Mohr.

In a city that regularly imports hot air, the annual Balloon Spectacular is a welcome chance to put it to good use and see the city differently.

While numbers will be limited to 15 balloons carrying two or three people this year due to the pandemic, a colourful array of balloons from all over the country will still take flight from the Patrick White lawn outside the National Library between 6 and 14 March.

Flight operator for Balloons Aloft in Canberra, John Wallington, said autumn was a fantastic time of year to fly in Canberra.

“It is very exciting for local balloon operators,” he said.

“The best part about taking someone up in a balloon is the excitement and joy you see because most of your passengers have never been in a balloon before and they are finally doing something they have wanted to do for a while.

“It is also pretty magical just being able to float around up there.”

John has been flying balloons for 35 years and takes flight well over a hundred times a year in Canberra.

“The special shapes get all the attention and are wonderful, but from a flying perspective, they are like any other balloon – except there is more material to pack up once you’re on the ground,” he laughed.

Beagle balloon

Fly like a beagle … special-shape balloons are always crowd favourites. Photo: Jack Mohr.

This year a secret “special shape” balloon will be arriving in Canberra from the United States, but a Canberra pilot will fly it due to border restrictions.

Balloons Aloft will also be running their own cohort of eight to 10 balloons around Canberra during the festival for those who missed out on the limited number of flights available.

Balloons Aloft operates all-year-round and flies around 220 days a year.

The Balloon Spectacular (6 to 14 March) runs in the final week of Canberra’s Enlighten Festival, which hosts various events around the city between 26 February to 14 March.

More information about the Enlighten Festival can be found at www.enlightencanberra.com while bookings for Balloon Aloft for the festival period can be found at www.balloonaloftcanberra.com.au.

Original Article published by Dominic Giannini on The RiotACT.

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