The 2013 Queen’s Cup Balloon Race concluded on Sunday after an exhausting cross-country flight for the intrepid participants. 13 teams competed to see who could fly the furthest from the launch point at Queen’s Square in Bristol. The competition has been praised for combining a long-distance endurance race with a strategic element.
Competitors were able to stop to refuel, but it’s the balloon that gets furthest from Bristol “as the crow flies” which comes out top. This year the Queen’s Cup was awarded to Richard Parry, from Stroud, who flew a full 199 miles (321km) from Queen’s Square to a site near Great Yarmouth, Norfolk. Competitors of any nationality were able to compete, but only a British citizen could be awarded the Cup.
The coveted Queen’s Cup dates back to 1719 and is the oldest sporting trophy in the UK. The cup is made from Irish silver and has been awarded by the Royal Aero Club to different air sport competitions since 2011. This year’s race was organised by the The British Balloon and Airship Club; last year the British Microlight Association awarded the Cup to Dan Curtis, who flew from Wolverhampton to Dundee and back in around 30 hours.
Here’s our list of the top five hot air balloon events in Britain:
The Bristol International Balloon Fiesta
Europe’s largest celebration of Hot Air Balloons takes place every year in south west England. This fiesta offers four days of colourful balloon flights, exhibitions and family fun as well as the famous “nightglows” which turn dozens of tethered balloons into a field of spectacular giant lanterns.
The Northampton Balloon Festival
Now nearing its 25th event, the Northampton Balloon Festival is one of the largest of its kind in the UK. The Festival was created by a group of local balloonists in 1990 and has been held at the Billing Aquadrome since 2009.
Tiverton Balloon & Music Festival
Tiverton combines bright, magnificent balloon displays with a taste of the west and live music sets. The breathtaking ‘Fire and Light’ show is the highlight of the festival.
Strathaven Balloon Festival
Spectators are in for a visual treat at Scotland’s International event. One of the nation’s favourites, Strathaven Festival is run by a non-profit voluntary committee and attracts thousands of people from across the UK.
Women’s Balloon Meet
A celebration of female Hot Air Balloon pilots, this relatively new event in Powys is a small but visually stunning event. Balloons fly en-masse over the beautiful Welsh landscape, around Powys castle and across Welshpool.