Hot air balloon festival set to take off from Houghall

Hot on the heels of the icy spectacular that was Fire&Ice InDurham, the organisation charged with increasing footfall and return patronage to Durham City, has announced the launch of a new spectacular for the summer season.

Durham Business Improvement District (Durham BID), has revealed its plans for a hot air balloon festival, taking place at locations in the City Centre and across the wider county, during the May half term period

Balloons InDurham will make its debut on Friday 26th May with an early evening hot air balloon launch from East Durham College’s Houghall Campus. Over the following days and up until Monday 29th May, visitors to the region will enjoy further dusk launches, tethered flights, and a sensational ‘Balloon Glow’.

Commenting on the launch of the event, Adam Deathe, business engagement manager at Durham BID, said: “While the finer details of the event are still being finalised, we’re delighted to share the news that this brand-new event will be the centre piece of activities for people far and wide to enjoy in Durham this summer.”

“Early risers are expected to be able to see a whole range of hot air balloons rise above the City from their launch point at East Durham College’s Houghall Campus, each morning of the festival at dawn.  Night owls can also enjoy a spectacular Balloon Glow taking place again at Houghall Campus, between 9.30pm and 10.15pm, on the evening of Saturday 27th May.  Imagine hot air balloons inflating and illuminating the night sky, all set to a rousing soundtrack and in time with music.”

Full details of the day-by-day event schedule are expected to be released on the Durham BID website in the coming days.  While the timetable has been planned to precision, some of the events are open to the elements and could be subject to change at short notice.

Scott Hillary of AH Events, and the production company behind Balloons InDurham, explained: “We’re praying to the Gods that we’re blessed with fine weather over the course of the festival weekend.  As you can imagine, by the very nature of hot air balloons, we’re at the mercy of the elements.  Even as much as 8mph winds can scupper plans and prevent a flight from taking off, so we’re building a degree of flexibility into the itinerary – if the Balloon Glow can’t happen on the Saturday evening, we’ll make every effort to make sure it happens the following night, weather permitting.  

“That said, as the final plans for Balloons InDurham are announced and over the course of the festival weekend, we’d urge people to keep checking Durham BID’s website and social media channels for up-to-the-minute event updates.”

It is expected that as many as 10,000 people will descend on the City and wider county during the Balloons InDurham festival.  To accommodate crowds and balloon-launching facilities, East Durham College’s Houghall Campus has been working in close connection with Durham BID to bring the ambitious festival plans to fruition.

Suzanne Duncan, principal and chief executive of East Durham College, said: “East Durham College’s Houghall Campus is delighted to host and support this landmark event.

“The college is acutely aware of the importance of the tourism industry to Durham City, and the wider region, and this event is a fantastic way to help attract visitors to our beautiful region.  We are thrilled to have been approached to help host this event and wish Durham BID and all of the festival’s participants every success in this exciting event.”

Adding to a jam-packed events calendar across the City, Balloons InDurham coincides with the penultimate leg of The Tour Series; Britain’s leading televised cycle race. The event returns to Durham on Saturday 27th May, bringing the country’s fastest elite cycling teams to compete on Durham’s testing City Centre circuit.  

The hot air balloon festival is then followed by Summer Fetes InDurham – another BID-organised event, bringing the quintessential English school summer fair back to the cobbled streets of the City.

Mr Deathe concluded: “Balloons InDurham is set to be a landmark event for the City and wider county.  Nowhere else in the North can people enjoy such a festival, so we’re asking people now to put a note in their diary and come along to be part of something that is set to be truly amazing.

“If you thought Fire&Ice InDurham was good, Balloons InDurham is about to give it a run for its money.  A perfect day out for all the family to enjoy, there’s plenty for people of all ages to see and do over the course of the festival weekend, with Summer Fetes InDurham and the final leg of the tour series too. On behalf of all the businesses within the BID zone, we’re looking forward to welcoming you to the City soon.”

For more information about Durham BID, visit: www.durhambid.co.uk.