Balloon festival gets set for lift off

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Trust House Balloons Over Wairarapa is preparing for lift-off.

The 15th annual balloon festival will see balloons and their pilots take part in a series of competitions and displays over four days this month.

The balloons will launch each day at dawn when the breeze is gentle and drift with the wind over Wairarapa towns, farms and vineyards if the weather is right.

The festival begins at 7am on Thursday, March 21.

Martyn Stacey, a stalwart of the Wairarapa Balloon Festival, will direct the various events.

He said many pilots returned year after year because of the near-perfect flying venues.

"The pilots love flying in Wairarapa - it is a brilliant place to fly a balloon. The variations of what can be done here allow us to be flexible on the day of any event to suit the conditions."

Wairarapa Balloon Society chairman Jonathan Hooker said the focus remained on a fun, friendly community event which can be enjoyed by pilots, locals and visitors.

The festival consistently attracts thousands of visitors to the region.

"The commitment from pilots to return each year and the support of the local community had enabled the event to continue year after year, even through difficult times," he said.

"An enormous amount of goodwill makes this an event everyone can enjoy. Without the pilots, volunteers and sponsors, the festival would not have remained the success that it is."

EventsThursday March 21

7am: Mass Ascension, Carrington Park

7.30am: Balloon pilots and crews visit schools

8pm: Burner Parade, Carterton town centre

Friday March 22

7am: MoreFM Balloon Meister's Challenge, Wairarapa College

4pm: Meet the pilots, Hood Aerodrome Masterton

Saturday March 23

7am: Wairarapa Times-Age Splash 'n Dash, Henley Lake Masterton

6.30pm - 8.45pm: Trust House Night Glow, Solway Showgrounds Masterton, adults $7 children $4 and under 5's free

Sunday March 24

7am: Competition flight over Carterton, Carterton Events Centre

As ballooning is dependent on weather conditions, decisions about each flight or event will be made in the early morning or late afternoon.

Regular updates will be posted on, Twitter: BallonsoverWai, Facebook: Balloons Over Wairarapa and broadcast on Wairarapa's 89.5/105.5 MoreFM.

For more information on how to book a ride and full festival information see


- Wairarapa Times-Age

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