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PHOTOS: Over 100 hot air balloons take to the sky for the 40th annual Bristol International Balloon Fiesta

By Jillian MacMath, AccuWeather staff writer
August 12, 2018, 7:13:19 AM EDT

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After days of wet and dreary weather across England, conditions cleared on Saturday morning allowing hot air balloons to take off over Bristol en masse.

More than 100 balloons participated in the ascent as part of the 40th annual Bristol International Balloon Fiesta at the Ashton Court Estate.

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Despite five mass ascents planned between Thursday and Saturday, only one went ahead due to persistent downpours and gusty winds.

With the all clear for 6 a.m. on Saturday, thousands of spectators gathered to watch the balloons soar over the famous Avon Gorge and Clifton Suspension Bridge.

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As part of the 40th anniversary celebration, dozens of special shapes were part of the display.

Some balloons that haven't participated in many years returned to the event to celebrate.

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Special shapes included Simbaloo the Longleat Lion, the Superbike and a giant birthday cake.

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The Superbike, the largest of those in attendance, weighs in at a whopping 1,300 pounds.

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The fiesta is known as Europe's largest annual meeting of hot air balloons, attracting over 130 from around the world.

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It runs through Sunday evening, with activities planned throughout the day.

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