Longleat breaks balloon launch record

Longleat has smashed the UK record for the most hot air balloons aloft simultaneously.

The record was broken on Saturday (September 15) as part of the Wiltshire estate’s three-day Sky Safari event, when 169 balloons took to the skies. The previous UK record was 130.

In total, 210 balloons were launched or inflated during the weekend, which also saw the unveiling of a new koala-shaped balloon to mark the arrival at Longleat later this year of a colony of the Australian marsupials.

The koala was one of several animal-inspired balloons in the annual event, alongside Simbaloo, the Longleat lion; penguins Puddles, Splash and Tall Steve; Wes the wolf; and an owl.

Run by Exclusive Ballooning, the Sky Safari also featured a pair of Bertie Basset characters, a giant 120ft Hunter Wellington boot, an orange, an Aston Martin wing and a balloon themed around Disney’s hit movie Up.

The event is now one of the largest in Europe with balloons and pilots from around the world taking part.

Steve Mytton, PR and media manager at Longleat, said: “It was an incredible sight to see all of those balloons in the air at the same time on Saturday and we’re absolutely delighted to have beaten the UK record.

“Hot air ballooning is always subject to the weather and the organisers were faced with some challenging conditions over the weekend which meant some planned ascents could not happen for safety reasons.

“All of our unique and fully choreographed night glows went ahead with a total of 70 balloons lighting up the night sky throughout the event and 23 different special shapes were seen tethering or flying.”