The European Balloon Festival. Shot of the sky from below, with many balloons silhouetted in the background. The foreground shows a balloon with the Catalan flag.
au pair diaries,  Featured,  spain,  travel

TRAVEL | 22nd European Balloon Festival, Igualada, Spain

The 22nd European Balloon Festival, held in Igualada (Spain) was easily one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. There is just something so fascinating about seeing huge man-made globes of air rise off the ground and begin to float away, hanging on the horizon as if it were magic.

I have wanted to ride in a hot air balloon for a while. My grandma loved balloon rides, and I can imagine why. Watching the temporary inhabitants of the balloon baskets grin in helpless exhilaration as they watched us become ant-like below them made clear that the experience was worth any fear that it might entail.

European Balloon Festival 2018. Five hot air balloons seen from below against a cloudy sky.

Did you know?

Hot air balloons as we know them nowadays were invented in the 1700s in France. However, unmanned balloons date back to 220-280AD, in China of the Three Kingdoms period.

This festival takes place every year in the first two weeks of July, lasting 4 days from Thursday to Sunday. Each day involves slightly different activities, both in the morning and the evening (when the winds are at their most calm and predictable). It was founded in 1997 and is one of the largest in Europe. However, there are also many other balloon festivals around the world – why not find out if there’s one near you?

A balloon at the european balloon festival is inflated. Here is an action shot as the operators activate the burners to heat the air.

Did you know?

The longest hot air balloon flight on record was between Japan and Canada (2,900 miles) in 1987. The flight was completed in a record breaking 33 hours and reached speeds of over 130 miles an hour.

There have been many amazing records in the history of balloon flights including solo flights around the world, and incredible altitudes which required pressurised cabins for the travellers. There has even been concerts in air balloons! For example, Newton Faulkner (one of my favourites) did a live performance for national radio from a balloon in 2008.

A view of the 22nd European Balloon Festival. Many balloons are already in the air, while several in the foreground are in the process of being inflated.

Did you know?

The largest balloon festival in the world took place in 2011 in France. There was a huge total of 329 balloons ascending into the sky for the event!

For me, events like this are one of the major perks of being an au pair. Staying with a family means you don’t just have nearby accommodation and transport to see such events, but you also have the local knowledge and language to be able to find out about their existence in the first place! Having seen 50 balloons disappear past the horizon, we returned home to pizza and a film, my desire to see them again burning as brightly as ever.

For now, I’m still waiting for that day. Have you ever been in a hot air balloon, or attended a large-scale hot air balloon event like this one? Let me know in the comments below!

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