Balloon Fiesta announces plans to support city’s economy

Bristol International Balloon Fiesta has announced plans to step up its support of the city economy with initiatives that will provide a platform for community causes and independent businesses to showcase their work at the event.

A fundamental part of the Fiesta’s constitution has always been to support businesses across the city and celebrate Bristol.

At this year’s Fiesta which takes place from Friday 9 to Sunday 11 August, this will be elevated further with the introduction of two new avenues of community support to champion and celebrate the region.

Fiesta organisers have announced the official charity for this year’s event – Bristol-based Love Squared, which provides SEN and mental health support, education and mentoring to children and young people in Bristol, and the South West.

The organisation will be on-site raising awareness of their invaluable work, while also harnessing the event’s hundreds of thousands of attendees to drive critical fundraising efforts.

In the lead-up to the event, the charity is calling on Bristol residents to consider volunteering to maximise their reach and engage visitors over the Fiesta weekend.

Cristie McMurray, chief executive at Love Squared, said: “We’re incredibly excited to have been chosen by the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta as its 2024 charity partner and grateful for the opportunity to raise awareness of our vitally important work.

“We’re a small charity supporting young people impacted by mental health, and their families at a time when services are at breaking point but to continue with this, we must raise funds and boost awareness.

“Love Squared puts love at the heart of everything, and we want to bring this to the Balloon Fiesta. To do this, we need help. We’re calling for people to join our Love Squad and help us raise funds to transform outcomes for families by providing listeners for teenagers in crisis, mentoring sessions for children experiencing social isolation and holiday activities for children with complex mental health and special educational needs.”

And the Bristol Launching Bursary is supporting local independent businesses attend the event to sell and promote their products.

Following an application process, eight fledgling Bristol traders have been selected to receive a significantly discounted pitch at the 2024 event to gain exposure, experience and ensure a great local offer to Fiesta visitors.

The successful applicants who will be bringing a taste of Bristol to visitors across the weekend are Bake My Day, I Scream Taco, Bishopston Bagels, Soul Bowl, Gopal’s Curry Shack, Indian Summer and Afista Barista.

They will also be joined by, Chameleon Spray, who will enable visitors to experience the power of colour transformation, with every surface, from uPVC to steel, becoming a canvas for personalised expression.

Ben Hardy, executive director, Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, spoke of the importance of local representation at the event.

He said: “The Fiesta has always been an event in Bristol, for Bristol and we believe that the introduction of the Bristol Launching Bursary, and partnering with Love Squared, underlines our commitment to engage with local businesses and community groups as much as possible.

“Through initiatives such as these, we can enrich the event experience for visitors, bringing a true representation of Bristol’s world-famous independent scene to the event, and underline the Fiesta’s commitment to championing the city, and it’s many communities.”

The 2024 Bristol International Balloon Fiesta will take place over three days from Friday 9 to Sunday 11 August in the rolling hills of Ashton Court Estate.

The Fiesta will still include two Night Glow events, which will take place consecutively on Friday and Saturday evenings.

Organisers have also announced an extension of the event. Between Monday 5 and Thursday 8 August, ‘Fiesta Week’ will see a fleet of hot air balloons popping up in local communities across the city in a series of local launches.