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In Pictures: Reach for the skies! Lift-off for balloon festival

The Bristol International Balloon Fiesta runs from August 9-12.

Hot air balloons have gone up, up and away ahead of this month’s Bristol International Balloon Fiesta.

The annual meeting of balloons draws participants from around the world, and will be held at Ashton Court Estate from August 9-12.

Celebrating the fiesta’s 40th year, around 130 balloons are expected to reach for the skies during the four-day event.

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The first day of the Fiesta will see a mass ascent at dusk – weather permitting (Ben Birchall/PA)
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On Friday August 10, there will be a model hot air balloon contest ahead of more flights in the evening (Ben Birchall/PA)
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‘Bristol’s Glowing’ will be the specially-commissioned musical theme of the nightglow event, which will be capped with a firework finale on Thursday 9 (Ben Birchall/PA)
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Balloons fly over the Avon Gorge, Bristol (Ben Birchall/PA)
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Balloon crews check the canopy of a hot air balloon before flight at the Ashton Court Estate (Ben Birchall/PA)
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The nightglow events, held on Thursday 9 and Saturday 11, are the highlights of the Fiesta. Closures will take place on the Clifton Suspension Bridge on both days from 6pm-midnight to accommodate the mass flight and the fireworks (Ben Birchall/PA)
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The first Fiesta was held in 1978, and it remains a popular event for thousands of spectators (Ben Birchall/PA)

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