For nine days in Autumn, Canberra's sky comes alive with colour and magic as the Canberra Balloon Spectacular lifts off and hot air balloons take flight over the capital. This is one of the longest-running balloon events in the world and also one of the few held within a city. Canberra's monuments and architecture provide a spectacular backdrop while the balloons to take centre stage.
Beginning each day at dawn, you can head to Patrick White Lawns to see the pilots inflate and launch their balloons. Gates open each day at 5:45am and this year, things will be a little different with registration required to access this area because of COVID. The laws will be gated and access restricted to ensure a safe event.
This isn't the only way to enjoy the festival though - there are great vantage points across the city, so you can enjoy the tranquil sunrise and watch the balloons float above you even if you don't have a ticket for the launch site. If you're new to the Canberra Balloon Spectacular, the National Museum of Australia and the National Arboretum are easily accessible locations that will provide a great view. If you're viewing the balloons launch from a different vantage point, consider downloading and using the Check In CBR app.
If you'd like to be right in the mix, you can also take in the view from the water where the balloons often drop in for a quick dip before lifting back off. GoBoat offer a limited number of bookings throughout the festival. And if that still isn't close enough, you can take flight in one of the participating balloons and literally be part of the action yourself. Soar over the city and float in the clouds for a truly magical experience. For balloon flight bookings, call Balloon Aloft (02 6249 8660) or Dawn Drifters (02 6248 8200).
The Canberra Balloon Spectacular is weather dependent and in the event that the balloons are unable to launch, they will inflate and tether (a short flight while the balloons are held by a rope). And no matter what, you'll be able to enjoy a hot breakfast and watch the sunrise over the Parliamentary Triangle and Lake Burley Griffin.
Location: Patrick White Lawns and various points across Canberra
Daily announcements regarding whether balloons will launch and fly are made at 6:15am and published on enlightencanberra.com and via the Enlighten Festival and Events ACT social channels or call Access Canberra on 13 22 81 from 6:00am for daily information.