Typical of a travel brochure, many of our iconic Canberra attractions are really only ever…
The way things have been going, one could probably be forgiven for not even blinking at seeing a unicorn.
But if you do see a unicorn flying through the sky in early March—your eyes don’t deceive you.
Allycorn, the unicorn-shaped hot air balloon, will join this year’s Canberra Balloon Spectacular, flying over Canberra in all her bright pink and rainbow-maned glory.
It will make for a magical sight, as she joins the dozens of other hot air balloons that will gently float across the morning sky for the annual festival, which will this year run from March 6-14 as part of the Enlighten Festival. And the story behind Allycorn is just as magical.
Allycorn is the creation of brothers Todd and Scott Monahan from New York, and the balloon was actually inspired by Scott’s 4-year old daughter Jade. She’s a big fan of unicorns, and even helped with the design for the balloon.
The Canberra Balloon Spectacular always has a special shaped balloon join the line-up—you might remember the giant T-Rex balloon last year, a beagle the year before, and the frog and the hummingbird the year before that—but like with most things, getting a special balloon here this year proved more challenging.
“A lot of the special-shaped balloons are from different countries, so working through a pandemic and bringing one in from overseas has been a massive undertaking from a lot of people getting it over here,” says Vickii Cotter, Executive Producer of Enlighten Festival.
“Usually the pilot or the owners would come with it, but that obviously wasn’t an option.”
Luckily the team was able to find a workaround. Allycorn’s owners had previously worked before with Canberra balloon pilot Craig Farrell, and they gave the all-clear for Craig to fly Allycorn at the Canberra Balloon Spectacular. So Allycorn made the very enviable journey via plane from JFK to Australia, just for the event.
And she’s not the only special guest at this year’s event. You’ll also get another opportunity to see Skywhale and Skywhalepapa on Canberra Day, Monday 8 March, at a special new event “Breakfast at Balloons” being held as part of the Canberra Day celebrations. Breakfast at Balloons will be held at BentSpoke Beer Garden in John Dunmore Lang Place.
The Canberra Balloon Spectacular has this year moved locations slightly, with the balloons now being inflated and launched from Patrick White Lawns, in between the National Library and the lake. Given the reduced space, some balloons will launch from alternate locations and they will all join together in the sky.
And like with all the Enlighten festivities this year, you’ll have to register for a free ticket to get in. The first release of tickets were snapped up quickly, but the exciting news is the Enlighten Festival has added a big second release, with more tickets available now for both the Canberra Balloon Spectacular and Breakfast at Balloons.
Gates will open from 5.45 am each morning of the festival, and there will be breakfast and the oh-so-important coffee available. As always, the balloons inflating is weather-dependent, and a decision will be made at 6 am each morning.
And if you miss out on the second round of tickets, you don’t have to miss out altogether. The beauty of the Canberra Balloon Spectacular is you can also soak in those impressive views from other vantage points around town—just don’t forget your social distancing!
What: Canberra Balloon Spectacular 2021
When: Running from March 6-14, 2021
Where: Patrick White Lawns, in front of the National Library
Tickets: You must register for a free ticket to attend.
More information: For the full program and tickets, visit enlightencanberra.com
What: Breakfast at Balloons
When: Monday 8 March
Where: BentSpoke Beer Garden, John Dunmore Lang Place
Tickets: You must register for a free ticket to attend at: enlightencanberra.com/program/breakfast-at-balloons