Bristol International Balloon Fiesta: Thousands disappointed as weather cancels first three mass ascents over the city

By Jillian MacMath, AccuWeather staff writer
August 10, 2018, 3:29:16 PM EDT

Hundreds of iconic hot air balloons were hauled from all over the world to Bristol, England, on Thursday to kick off the 40th annual Bristol International Balloon Fiesta.

However, following weeks of parched conditions across the country's South West, rain has made a comeback at a less than desirable time for those attending and participating in the event at the Ashton Court estate.

The fiesta's first mass ascent -- where balloons fly over the Clifton Suspension Bridge -- was canceled on Thursday night due to high winds.

Weather also scuppered the ascents planned for 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. on Friday.

Night glow bristol balloon fiesta

Will the weather cooperate for ascent later this weekend?

Though Thursday and Friday's weather has thrown a wrench in the fan for balloon pilots and spectators, forecasters say the weather isn't likely to spoil all the fun this weekend.

Saturday morning shows the most promising opportunity for pilots to lift off from Ashton Court, with dry weather and little wind in the offing.

The event is scheduled for just after 6 a.m. and will be visible above many locations across the city.

AccuWeather Meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski said, "The best time to view the balloon fiesta will be at the start on Saturday morning, but then the weather will go downhill again."

bristol balloon fiesta crowd

"A shower will arrive mainly in the afternoon on Saturday."

Showery spells will continue into Sunday, threatening to keep the balloons grounded once again.

Pydynowski added, "The chance for an odd thundershower will further create hazards for those who stop by to visit the event."

What's planned for the remainder of the fiesta?

Saturday and Sunday will each welcome two more mass ascent attempts: one at 6 a.m. and one at 6 p.m.

On Saturday evening, another Night Glow will take place followed by a fireworks finale.

The final day of the fiesta will feature entertainment at the balloon arena from noon to 5:30 p.m.

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