The Canberra Balloon Spectacular has been held once a year since 1987, the festival is a stunning nine-day display, running between 12th and 20th March in 2023.
This Canberra extravaganza is one of the four leading balloon events in the world. This year it will feature about 50 hot air balloons, which take off daily at dawn. Known for its unusual balloons of all shapes and colours, in past years balloons have resembled dancing honeybees, a Scottish bagpiper, a Yoda head, and a giant T-Rex.
The inflating zone on the Patrick White grounds (located between the National Library of Australia and Lake Burley Griffin), is the best place to get up close and personal with the balloons. You can see the balloons come to life as they are inflated and hear the roar as they take off from this vantage point. It’s free to watch the balloons inflate, but due to Covid regulations, it’s been essential to register in recent years. To prevent disappointment, check the Enlighten website to confirm prerequisites before going along. You can also book paid flights during the Canberra Balloon Spectacular, lasting for up to one hour.
Several Lake Burley Griffin locations also provide stunning views of the balloons as they fly and then sink towards the lake before drifting by. The lakeside alternatives are ideal if you want to lay out a picnic mat and start the day with a less frantic feel than the inflation zone. The grassed area at the Canberra Region Visitors Centre, the National Museum foreshore, Commonwealth Bridge, and Queen Elizabeth Terrace are all suitable spots. An alternative viewing spot is the National Arboretum, where the gates open every morning at 6am. This is a fair way from the action to begin with but the wind usually blows toward the west so the balloons frequently end up near there when conditions are right.
Ballooning entirely depends on the weather, and weather can be fickle, so daily launches aren’t guaranteed. To avoid disappointment, check updates before heading in. It will be cool in the early morning, (viewing is daily at 6:15 am) so rug up warmly, there will be plenty of people wearing gloves, jackets and beanies!!
Balloons won’t be the only thing on offer as Canberra’s largest multi event festival, Enlighten Festival 2023 will be happening too. Canberra will shine bright with culture and creativity to bring together the best autumn events between 3 and 19 March 2023. It’s a wonderful time to visit.