Balloons from the United States, Canada, Australia and around New Zealand are set to provide a Carnival of Colour when Balloons over Waikato returns from Tuesday March 17 to Saturday March 21.

With morning flying, basket burns, walk through balloons and events around our community over five days, culminating in the stunning Zuru Nightglow on Saturday night, it is not to be missed.

The third Special Shape featuring this year is one Balloons over Waikato organisers have had their eye on for a while – Speedy Snail.

Speedy Snail was created in 2014 and made in Brazil. Speedy Snail is 250kg – that is 17,000 times the weight of a real snail.

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Pilot Louis LaFrance is from Quebec, Canada.

"Speedy is certainly the fastest snail in the world, and we know he will win the hearts of young and old at Balloons over Waikato," he says.

"He has already won the Coup de Coeur prize at the International Balloon Festival of St-Jean-Sur-Richelieu in Quebec in 2019, one of our proudest moments."

 Cosmos 1 is a featured special shape at the 2020 Balloons Over Waikato festival. Photo / Supplied
Cosmos 1 is a featured special shape at the 2020 Balloons Over Waikato festival. Photo / Supplied

Balloons over Waikato general manager Michele Connell is thrilled to have Speedy Snail join the line-up of Special Shapes.

"We are so excited to have Speedy Snail join Resene Rainbow Unicorn and Mainfreight Cosmos 1 as our featured balloons this year.

"We have been trying to bring him to New Zealand for a few years now and we are so pleased the stars have aligned, to enable him to join us.

Balloons over Waikato partner Mainfreight is this year bringing their own balloon to the festival — Mainfreight Cosmos 1.

Mainfreight Cosmos 1 is an astronaut, complete with spacesuit, helmet, gloves and boots. He was built in 2012 in Brazil, weighing over 220kg and stands 32m tall.

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All three of these Special Shapes are truly magical, and we cannot wait to share them with the Waikato next month."

You can see them each morning from Innes Common with the Hamilton City Council Opening Fiesta, the Grassroots Trust Lift Off, WEL Energy Trust Muffins in the Morning, the First Credit Union Carnival and the Cash Grab Spectacular.

Join in the fun when the Balloons visit Waipa, the CBD Walk Thru Balloon sets up each day in Garden Place and feel the fiery fun at the all new Base Basket Burn.

 The Resene Rainbow Unicorn balloon is heading for the Waikato. Photo / Supplied
The Resene Rainbow Unicorn balloon is heading for the Waikato. Photo / Supplied

Rainbow Unicorn, the first special shape announced, was created by twin brothers Todd and Scott Monahan to encourage children into ballooning.

The unicorn was inspired by Scott's four-year-old daughter Jade, who even helped with the final design.

It took two months to get the design and colour right and in January 2018 the pink and rainbow unicorn was manufactured in Brazil.

Resene Rainbow Unicorn comes from Lake George, New York, United States and is likely to be a fan favourite.

Balloons over Waikato's Carnival of Colour lifts off from Innes Common in Hamilton Tuesday, March 17 and packs down after the Zuru Nightglow on Saturday March 21.