It's that time of year again when Canberra's early morning sky is filled with hot air balloons as the Canberra Balloon Spectacular takes flight. In 2022, the Balloon Spectacular will launch on 12 March and run daily (weather permitting) through until 20 March 2022 with inflation beginning from 5:45am and lift off soon after.
This is one of the most beautiful events in Canberra and well worth the early start so get planning, think of a breakfast picnic menu (champagne is totally legit as a breakfast drink when there are hot air balloons around) and set the alarm because the early bird gets the best view of the balloons. There are some great vantage points across the city to take in the amazing spectacle, so whether you've been before and want a new perspective or you're a first-time balloon chaser, here are some tips on where to enjoy the balloon filled view.
The easiest way to get up close and personal with the balloons is at the inflation zone on the Patrick White lawns within the Parliamentary Triangle. From here, you can see the balloons come alive as they are filled and hear the roar as they lift off. This is something you should see at least once during the festival but the area can be busy and loud so if you want to sit and relax, consider one of the other options instead. It's free to see the balloons inflate but over the past few years, it's become necessary to register because of Covid restrictions. Check in with the Enlighten website to confirm requirements before you go to avoid being disappointed.
See the magic of a hot air balloon coming to life at the Canberra Balloon Spectacular
There are various points around Lake Burley Griffin, which give a beautiful perspective of the balloons as they soar and then dip to the water before floating by. The lakeside options are fantastic if you want to drop a picnic rug and ease into the day with a less hectic vibe than the inflation zone. Some good places to set up include the grassed area near the Canberra Region Visitors Centre, The National Museum foreshore, Commonwealth Bridge and Queen Elizabeth Terrace. It can get very chilly near the water, so rug up and don't be shy about wearing gloves and a beanie.
If being near the lake isn't close enough, you can get on the water too. Go Boat offer early bookings throughout the festival but book ahead to avoid disappointment.
The National Arboretum offers a beautiful view of the balloons as they sail above the city and, if you're lucky, you might even be able to see them land from here. This is a great place to see the sunrise and The Arboretum cafe opens early during the Balloon Spectacular, so you can get caffeinated while you enjoy the fun.
And if you'd rather be part of the show, why not book a place in the basket of a balloon and get a bird's eye view? Balloon Aloft offers the chance to fly as part of the festival and you can get booking details here. This is a once in a lifetime chance to float among a huge flock of balloons and get a truly unique view of the Canberra Balloon Spectacular.
There is ample parking within an easy walk to all of the locations mentioned and the early hour means the parking meters won't have started at most places but be sure to check the signage. There is limited (or no) food and drink near most of the places mentioned because of the super early start so make sure you check opening hours of cafes near your chosen viewing spot or pack something if you plan to eat. However you decide to see the balloons, you won't be disappointed with the colour, atmosphere and fun of the Balloon Spectacular.
From 5:45am 12 March to 20 March 2022.
Daily announcements regarding whether the 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.
Balloons take flight at the Canberra Balloon Spectacular