It's not just balloons at the fiesta

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There's more to Bristol International Balloon Fiesta than you might think

Hundreds of hot air balloons will have Bristol looking skywards during this year’s Bristol International Balloon Fiesta in partnership with Bristol Waste, but there’s a lot more to the event than just the mass ascents.

This year’s Fiesta will feature a giant water slide, a helium-filled moon, circus performances and some stunning aerial displays, all for free across four days at Ashton Court from 11-14 August.

Bristol artist Luke Jerram’s latest work, The Museum of the Moon, will add a unique element to this year’s Fiesta. It will be the world premiere of the artwork, a seven-metre wide moon featuring detailed imagery of the moon’s surface supplied by NASA. Filled with helium, the moon is being made by Cameron Balloon’s in Bristol and will be lit up after dark.

Luke Jerram earned Bristol worldwide fame when he put a huge water slide down Park Street, and the city’s love of getting soaked while sliding downhill is to be revived by a gigantic two-lane water slide at this year’s Bristol International Balloon Fiesta. The SlideRider will come to the Ashton Court courtesy of Cancer Research UK Kids & Teens. From 11am to 6pm each day people will be able to enjoy the 500ft-long slide. Places are limited so you will need to book in advance at www.cancerresearchuk.org

The Fiesta is a great event for families and this year there’s the great news that Bristol’s very own Cirque Bijou will be performing their eye-catching and stunning routines.

The ever-present funfair has been reduced in size to create a performance area for the team from Cirque Bijou, who combine circus skills, street theatre and acrobatics and are firm favourites at events like the Bristol Harbour Festival. The entertainment will include Bocadalupa hot air balloon workshops, Happymess junk modelling workshops, Litterati scrap musical sculptures and workshops, Stickleback Plasticus, the cat choir, the Desperate Men’s balloon toss as well as facepainting, circus workshops and stilt walkers.

The events partnership with Bristol Waste will mean the new children’s area will have a recycling theme and include activities which will help kids have a real hands-on experience, such as junk modelling workshops, hot air balloon workshops and face painting and glitter tattoos.

Aside from the dramatic sight of the mass ascents, there will also be plenty of reasons for Fiesta-goers to look to the skies. The Parabatix Flying Display team will be performing remarkable twists and turns in their engine-powered paragliders. Flying just above the ground at speeds of up to 45 miles per hour, their daring stunts combine are real crowd pleasers.

The Pitts Special Aerobatic Aeroplane Display brings a unique aircraft to the Fiesta. Pilot Rich Goodwin took a Pitts Special biplane and added some revolutionary modifications that make it essentially several planes in one as it is capable of performing amazing feats at high speed. He has performed to crowds of 100,000 and gained a worldwide reputation for bravery.

And fans of vintage aircraft will no doubt be looking forward to seeing Matt Younkin in his Beech 18. Regarded as one of the most elegant aircraft in the skies in the 1940s and 50s, Matt is able to guide it into some incredible moves with expert skill, and has become a real attraction at air shows.

Great Western Air Ambulance is the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta’s official charity partner for 2016 and their helicopter will be on site on Saturday and Sunday of the Fiesta. The GWAAC team save lives every year by getting paramedics to the scene as fast as possible, and on the Saturday they will be showing the crowds how they carry out their vital work by staging a mock road traffic collision, in partnership with the South West Ambulance Service Trust. GWAAC volunteers will also be out and about among the crowds trying to raise £25,000 across the weekend.

To support this great local charity, and also experience the varied, stunning aerial displays at this year’s Fiesta head down to Ashton Court from 11 August.

 To find out more about this year’s event follow @BristolBalloon on Instagram and Twitter, or https://www.facebook.com/bristolinternationalballoonfiesta

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