For a relatively small city, Bristol packs a punch in terms of reputation. Its regeneration and reinvention of recent years has earned it a place on the world stage, where it is known for a vibrant cultural scene and independent spirit. Its annual balloon festival is one rather spectacular example of this.
The Bristol Balloon Fiesta first took flight in 1979 and, embraced by Bristolians, grew to become an international event. The largest gathering of hot air balloons in Europe, it attracts more than 130 balloons from across the world and hundreds of thousands of spectators.
One reason for its success is down to geography. The city is home to several large swathes of open parkland. The Ashton Court Estate, where the fiesta is held, is one. Just a few miles from the city centre, the estate comprises an impressive 850 acres of grasslands and woods, providing a fantastic backdrop to the mass ascent.
The surrounding suburbs of Leigh Woods, Abbots Leigh, Failand and Long Ashton are perennially popular places to live, with a very attractive mix of property available.
By virtue of the fact that the display takes place in the sky, and thanks also to Bristol’s characteristically hilly landscape, it is possible to enjoy the fiesta from much further afield than its venue and surrounds. Clifton Downs, for example, is a fantastic area of protected parkland in the city and a great vantage point for balloon watching.
The Downs border Clifton Village, a pretty and historic suburb that encompasses some the city’s finest architecture, including the Clifton Suspension Bridge. Further into the city centre, the buzzing harbourside is another quintessentially Bristol hotspot from which to soak up the aerial magic.
One of Bristol’s selling points is its proximity to the beautiful south-west countryside. You don’t have to go far to enjoy some incredible rural landscapes, and many residents enjoy the relative ease of working in the city and living in the country. It's entirely possible to enjoy the balloons from outside the city too, with Dundry Hill in Somerset a popular spot to the south, and there are several good vantage points in North Somerset.
Here is a selection of the best available properties within walking distance of Bristol's balloon-watching hotspots.