I was in Cumbria with a friend when I noticed an ad on Facebook relating to an event at Houghall and the Sands in Durham. It was a hot air balloon display and nighttime views of the balloons lit up. I’ve long wanted to see some hot air balloons up close so I drove all the way back for the weekend.
I was expecting the ritual rip off of drivers but they asked £5 per vehicle however that was all day and night, and I stayed on the parking field on the Saturday night, and you could leave and come back if you wanted without paying again. So in that sense it worked very well for me.
Sadly on the Saturday they couldn’t fly because of the weather, but we got to see them being inflated., I had never known that they actually inflate them with cold air from an engine driven fan. Then use the burners to heat that air up. When fully inflated they weigh over 5 tons! We did see one balloon that was caught by wind and it lifted up the 4×4 that it was tethered to. It was then that they decided there would be no flight that night.
I walked around the little fair that was at the other end of the field, but it was the same old tat as usual. Surprisingly it was quite cheap though at between £1.50 and £2 a go. However the bouncy castle was a wallet busting £5 for each child. The food was exactly as you’d expect: expensive and not that tasty. The coffee that I got was vile so I threw that away. I noticed a huge number of people who had brought picnics, and when my daughter met me there with her two kids she also had made a picnic. Why spend £7 each on kids when you can do a lovely picnic for a third of that?
There was some live music and one particular young woman was an excellent singer, I really enjoyed her. Me and my daughter both said at one point the music was far too loud and we started laughing saying we both must be old or something. However, after a few minutes they turned it down quite a lot so it wasn’t just us. I’ll never understand why they set the music so loud that you can’t hear yourself talking to other people. high five to the organisers for knocking that volume down.
The atmosphere was excellent the whole 2 days and on the Sunday we got to see balloons take off so that was it for me. There was an extra event at the Sands where a Virgin balloon was going to light it’s burners so you could see it lit against the evening sky. This started way too early and had gone on for well over an hour and a half before dusk started. Most people had left by then so I grabbed a few shots and left myself.
Overall though it was an excellent weekend which cost me £10 for 2 days parking. I’ve got a new notch in my photo belt and it was a very welcome change from the norm and a very well managed event. Well done whoever organised it and as always, here’s a few photos.