The 52nd National Folk Festival kicks off this Thursday with more than 900 hours of…
Spectacular by name, spectacular by nature—the Canberra Balloon Spectacular (until 14 March) sees the capital skyline fill with hot air balloons.
Over nine stunning autumn mornings, passengers can experience the thrill of hot air ballooning over Canberra at sunrise while spectators on the ground are treated to an experience of the senses.
Whether you’re a seasoned festival-goer or a first time visitor, we’ve got the lowdown on the best places to take in the action.
At the inflation zone
Get up close to the action to watch as pilots inflate and launch their balloons at Patrick White Lawns. Enjoy hot drinks and breakfast served up by local food trucks in the inflation zone when gates open from 5:45am each day.
The inflation zone is free for spectators to attend; however, to maintain a COVID-Safe event registrations are required to enter the zones – register now to avoid disappointment.
Expect more than the usual balloon shapes at this iconic festival. On Monday 8 March the famous Skywhale and Skywhalepapa will join in the festival fun launching just around the corner at a second inflation zone at John Dunmore Lang Place. To celebrate Canberra Day, this second event, Breakfast at Balloons, will be held alongside the Canberra Balloon Spectacular and will see the Skywhale family inflate and take flight over Canberra.
Another special shaped balloon will feature at the Canberra Balloon Spectacular for the entire festival period – keep an eye out for the announcement of this magical addition to the festival soon.
Free inflation zone tickets are limited and some mornings may already be at capacity for this popular event, but there are plenty of other great vantage points for this spectacular festival.
On the lake
Don a captain’s hat and sail a boat underneath the balloons. The view from a sustainable, electric GoBoat is almost too amazing to believe. Hire one of these eco-friendly boats and be sure to bring a picnic breakfast to fuel your morning adventure.
For those who like to start their day with a daily dose of exercise, Stand Up Paddleboarding is another popular way to experience the festival. Enjoy a guided sunrise paddle to race the pilots across the lake.
Around the shores of Lake Burley Griffin
Lake Burley Griffin is privy to some of the most spectacular views to take in the Canberra Balloon Spectacular. Set up camp with a coffee or go for a stroll and watch as they float past some of our most renowned national attractions.
Rond Terrace is a particularly stunning vantage spot to watch the balloons inflate and take to the sky. After a spectacular morning, head to a local café for a well-deserved brunch and cuppa.
At the National Arboretum Canberra
Given the right wind conditions, the National Arboretum Canberra is an amazing location to take in the beauty of the balloons as they float on by.
With gates opening at 6 am each day during the festival, early risers will be rewarded with freshly brewed cuppas, egg and bacon rolls, as well as muffins from a pop-up coffee cart on weekends and public holidays.
The cafe will also be opening early at 8 am each weekend to provide caffeine hits to balloon chasers.
After filling your phone with snaps of this picture-perfect festival, explore the trails around the Arboretum.
Take in 94 forests of rare and endangered trees, marvel at the artistry of the National Bonsai and Penjing Collection or discover the picturesque Pod Playground.
From the basket of a hot air balloon
For a truly immersive experience, take in the action from a hot air balloon. Balloon Aloft (02 6249 8660) and Dawn Drifters (02 6248 8200) offer daily flights, and there is no better time to experience a gentle flight over Canberra than during the festival.
No matter where you enjoy the festival from, there are two golden rules to follow – check with Enlighten Festival each morning to see if the balloons will fly and be a COVID-Safe festival fan.
Hot air ballooning is completely weather dependent and flights may be delayed or cancelled. Daily announcements regarding whether balloons will launch and fly are made at 6:15am and published on Enlighten Festival’s website, as well as on Enlighten Festival’s Facebook and Instagram.
Remember, it is everyone’s responsibility to follow the health advice and do what we can to ensure we keep ourselves and the community safe. All festival fans are asked to avoid large crowds, keep 1.5m apart whenever possible, maintain good hand and respiratory hygiene, stay home if unwell and get tested if any COVID-19 symptoms are experienced. Wherever you are viewing the balloons, we encourage you to download and use the Check In CBR app.