There’s just three weeks until the skies above Northam and the Avon Valley will be adorned with 30 beautiful hot air balloons for the National Ballooning Championships. From 2 to 9 September, international, interstate and local hot air balloon pilots will descend on the Avon Valley, testing their skills at varying winds and altitudes. To see so many colourful balloons in the sky at the one time is a visual treat for spectators.
Public festivities commence on Saturday 2 September with the Northam Balloon Fiesta from 4pm and visually stunning Balloon Glow (pictured above) after dark at the Henry Street Oval, weather permitting. The free Fiesta will include a live stage show, balloon discovery zone, carnival rides, game zone, markets, food and drinks and show bags.
The competition balloons will fire up in all their glory with musical accompaniment at approximately 7.30pm with a fireworks finale. Each day enthusiasts can see the balloons flying across the rolling hills and valleys at dawn and again in the afternoon if weather conditions are suitable. Spectating opportunities are available at various locations around Northam.
Balloons will launch at around sunrise each morning and fly until approximately 9am. Another highlight is the Key Grab competition on Saturday 9 September. This is a flying task for the balloons departing from the Northam Airfield at first light. Pilots fly from point to point, collecting foam ‘keys’ from the end of 10metre poles in several locations.
The Championships course and best viewing spots will differ each day based on wind conditions. Spectators should check the event’s Facebook page (Northam Nationals) to see where flights will be each day, or start at the Northam Aero Club at Withers Street Northam to be directed from there to where balloons will take off from that day.