Last weekend my husband and I went to Hamilton for the annual Balloons Over Waikato event. We only caught 2 days of the festival, but it was amazing!
NightGlow at Balloons Over Waikato
We arrived the day of the NightGlow and we went early, since the website said the event started at 4:30. The NightGlow isn’t just the balloons being lit up in the dark, but it is a family fair with bouncing houses, food and other activities for families and kids. We were really interested in the fair activities so we found a shady spot and stared at the field anxious for balloons to inflate. After an hour we became restless and checked the website with our mobile phone. The site was updated with a detailed schedule of the NightGlow and we learned the balloons wouldn’t inflate until 7:45. We decided to wait the rest of the time in our car.
We went back to the university field around 7:30 and were shocked to see the amount of people had exploded. There were people covering every inch of space and there was no way we could get back to our prime location. We hung around on the east side of the field and watched the balloons inflate as the sun set. It was pretty, but we were thinking of leaving when we heard an announcement that the show was going to began.
A show! We hadn’t known what to expect so we thought what we had already seen – balloons inflated and occasional glowing when they turned on the burners was it. A young couple with small children decided they had seen enough and left their coveted spot on a bench, so we were able to sit down and enjoy the show just as it started.
All of the balloons went dark and then music and glowing balloons filled the night in perfectly timed synchronization. The balloons began to flickr on and off in beat with the music which varied from Mamma Mia to Ghostbusters. It was truly a spectacular sight! I only wish we could have walked around and seen it from different angles. The magical night ended with fireworks, which were much more impressive than I had imagined. If you are going to this event, arrive early, bring a blanket, some food and wine – it can be a very romantic evening!
Balloons Over Lake Hamilton
The next day, we woke up early to see the balloons fly over Hamilton Lake. We arrived at the Common Inns park before as the balloons were being rolled onto the field. There were very few people there so we got a great view of how they manage to get these huge balloons in the air. Several people are required to unroll and spread the balloon across the ground. Then a fan on the basket blows air into the balloon. The burner is turned on and off as the balloon begins to inflate. People have to pull ropes at various angles to keep things moving smoothly. When it is almost full, it starts to rise and the basket is angled to rise with it.
This field is great to bring kids to, because it is where the famous shapes inflate and rise. We saw the enormous Jack in the Box and the speaker roused the kids into yelling “Wake Up Jack!” as this balloon pushed off the ground into its proper upright position. Other special shapes included the mushroom house and peacock. Also, the largest balloon of the festival was there – the Up, Up and Away balloon from Christchurch which holds 22 people in its basket!
The day was overcast, so the pictures of the balloons that morning weren’t what they could have been, but still pretty. I really enjoyed watching them float over the lake. I do wish the sun would have come out so we could get the balloons reflection in the lake.
Overall is was a wonderful experience and I definitely recommend anyone in the area going to Balloons Over Waikato in 2011.