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In Pictures: Up, up and away as Bristol Balloon Fiesta lifts off

The ascent from Ashton Court took place early due to forecasts of high winds and heavy rain over the weekend.

Balloons float over Ashton Court estate in the first ever Thursday mass ascent at Bristol International Balloon Fiesta (Ben Birchall/PA)
Balloons float over Ashton Court estate in the first ever Thursday mass ascent at Bristol International Balloon Fiesta (Ben Birchall/PA)

Dozens of colourful hot air balloons of all shapes and sizes have lifted off in the first ever Thursday mass ascent at the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta.

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Crews prepare the balloons for the mass ascent at Ashton Court (Ben Birchall/PA)
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(Ben Birchall/PA)
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A balloon crew wait for the green light to take off and fly in the first ever Thursday mass ascent (Ben Birchall/PA)
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Crews inflate a balloon canopy (Ben Birchall/PA)
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A balloon pilot unfurls a canopy at sunrise (Ben Birchall/PA)
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A balloon pilot checks the rigging inside a canopy as he prepares for lift-off (Ben Birchall/PA)
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(Ben Birchall/PA)
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(Ben Birchall/PA)
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Balloons float over the Clifton Suspension Bridge (Ben Birchall/PA)
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A tricky landing at Clifton Downs (Ben Birchall/PA)

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