There will still be balloons in the skies above Bristol this summer, but the usual Balloon Fiesta at Ashton Court will not be taking place in 2020.
Instead, organisers promise a flypast one early morning during the first fortnight of August and a nightglow in an as-yet undisclosed location.
The festival in its stripped-down form is set to be the world’s first hot air balloon event since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
Due to the nature of the current restrictions, a festival in its usual location Ashton Court is out of the question but the flypast is expected to see some 30 balloons float over the city from a private launch area.
The nightglow on Saturday, August 8 will be a ‘virtual’ event in collaboration with BBC Radio Bristol, “staged with extra special additions and a soundtrack produced to lift the spirits of the city”.
Bristol International Balloon Fiesta chair, Chris Allcock, said: “We’re all deeply saddened that we can’t gather at Ashton Court to celebrate the 42nd Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, but we have been working with our balloonists and the authorities to create an event which adheres to the social distancing restrictions.
“We are inviting Bristolians to watch the balloons from the safety of their own doorsteps and gardens.
“Social distancing means we absolutely cannot gather in parks or Bristol’s open spaces or invite our audiences to see the balloons take off or land, to protect our pilots and the public.
“Instead we’re asking people to give them a wave as they fly past Bristol’s communities.”
Visit Bristol’s head of tourism, Kathryn Davis, added: “We know that this was a difficult decision for the organisers of the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, but safety is absolutely essential.
“We have all missed the sight of balloons over Bristol so we are looking forward to being able to give a taste of the Fiesta this year, and we look forward to working with partners to provide inspiration for visitors to experience Bristol for the 2021 event.”
Main photo: Bristol International Balloon Fiesta