The long-awaited Balloons over Waikato festival is finally here and people who were up early this week have been able to witness the colourful balloons brightening up the sky over Hamilton from their homes.
As there are no public events, the ZURU Nightglow will be held online this year, but since Tuesday, Hamiltonians have seen 14 balloons in the air each morning.
If you missed them so far, look up in the sky from 7am on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, as the balloons will be taking off from different parks around the city every day.
The much-loved Balloons over Waikato festival was up in the air for a little bit with Omicron breaking out in New Zealand's communities and the changing traffic light settings, but the organisers were working hard to make it happen even without public festival events.
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Festival general manager Michele Connell says the festival was slightly different to other events which had to be cancelled, as it is a free, non-ticketed event.
"Balloons will fly from one of our pre-determined sites every morning and our flight team will base our launch site on the breeze direction and the ability for this to take our balloons over the city and impact as many people as possible."
She says she was thrilled to still bring Waikato's favourite glow show to the community and invites everybody to enjoy the ZURU Nightglow – Virtual Edition through their social media channels.
People will still get to experience the magic of the Balloons inflating and glowing to a choreographed soundtrack, as the team will be filming the ZURU Nightglow and releasing it through multiple social media channels at 8pm this Saturday, March 19.
"The huge popularity of the ZURU Nightglow means many thousands will still get to enjoy this part of the festival from the comfort of their own home. We encourage everyone to grab some popcorn, set up some picnic blankets and get the whole family together to enjoy the glow show.
"It has been a roller-coaster ride within the event industry, with what seems like never-ending challenges to overcome. We are confident however we will still be able to deliver this iconic event in a different way that provides an experience for our balloonists, engages the public and supports the wider community."
For more information or to find out where the balloons are heading each day, check out their website at balloonsoverwaikato.co.nz and their social media channels.