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Six ways to get the most out of hot air balloon season
The Canberra Balloon Spectacular returns this March, with more than thirty magnificent hot air balloons taking to the Canberra skies over nine days. There'll be lots of action on the ground too, with live music, hot drinks and a delicious breakfast available for purchase and provided by the Belconnen Lions Club.
A staple of the Enlighten Festival, the Canberra Balloon Spectacular is a wonderful way to celebrate the beginning of the autumn season in Canberra. My family and I have been dragging ourselves out of our beds at the crack of dawn to see the balloons for some years now, and we absolutely love it! If you've never been to the Canberra Balloon Spectacular before, here are six ways to get the most out of it.
1. Get up early. The hot air balloon pilots will start inflating their balloons on the lawns of Old Parliament House from 6.15am each day. So set your alarm clocks the night before to make sure you get up early. All of Canberra will be at the Spectacular, especially on the weekends. So make sure you (and your family) are up before the crack of dawn!
2. Pack food and drinks, just in case. There will be hot drinks and food for purchase on the lawns of Old Parliament House, but the queues can get long. So it's a good idea to pack your own food and drinks, especially if you have kids and they start to get hungry. Better yet, you can bring your own breakfast to the Spectacular. There's nothing more wonderful than having a picnic on the lawns and watching the balloons float up all around you.
3. Bring a jacket, coat, warm clothes, etc, just in case. Now that it's autumn in Canberra, the weather can be unpredictable. So it's best to pack some warm clothes as well, just in case.
4. Remember that the Spectacular is weather-dependent. Some people don't get this and rant away on social media about how disappointed, devastated, annoyed, angry, etc they were because the hot air balloons didn't go up that morning. However, the Canberra Balloon Spectacular is weather-dependent which basically means that if the pilots don't think the weather up there is good or stable or if threatening clouds or winds are approaching, then the balloons won't go up or will be delayed going up for safety reasons. The best thing to do is to check regularly for updates and weather reports. You can go to the event's website, Facebook page, or call Access Canberra on 13 22 81 from 6:15am for daily information.
5. Drive to a vantage point and watch the balloons from there. There are many other places around Canberra to see the hot air balloons apart from the launch site at Old Parliament House. Places like Mount Ainslie, Black Mountain, Red Hill, the National Arboretum, and along the shores of Lake Burley Griffin. Of course, the path the balloons take is weather dependent. A good idea is to watch the balloons from the launch site, then hop back into your car and follow them around Canberra. In previous years, we've followed the balloons to the National Arboretum and to Black Mountain. But then we've also seen them land in suburban Kambah and on a football field in Coombs. You never know where they'll be heading, but that's all part of the fun!
6. If you want to indulge, then go on a magnificent hot air balloon ride. Balloon Aloft and Dawn Drifters offer daily flights. Prices for Balloon Aloft start at $330 per adult with Dawn Drifters offering from $310-$360 per adult.
The Canberra Balloon Spectacular is on from Saturday, March 9, 2019 to Sunday, March 17, 2019, from 6.15am-10am. The hot air balloons will be launching from the lawns of Old Parliament House.