Richmond Event Management (REM) overcame bad weather conditions to manage the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, which took place 8 August.

Several events have been hit with bad weather over the past week, with Boardmasters and Houghton festivals both being cancelled.

REM were forced to adapt to challenging conditions by making a decision to host the event seven hours earlier than planned – beginning at 5am.

At 06:40 on Thursday morning, 58 hot air balloons took to the skies over Bristol, witnessed by thousands of visitors on the event site and millions more through national and international media coverage.

The world-famous mass ascent celebrated the event’s ‘Icons of Bristol’ theme by marking the first flight over the city of a special shaped hot air balloon in the shape of Darth Vader’s head.

The balloon was built in Bristol in 2007 by Cameron Balloons but had never flown in the city, despite appearing at balloon meets around the world. The balloon is symbolic to the city, as Darth Vader actor David Prowse was born in Bristol.

Ben Hardy, managing director, REM, commented: “With the forecast so changeable it was unclear whether we would gain conditions suitable for ballooning. Less than 48 hours before the event was due to open, it became clear that there would be a weather window for a mass ascent on the morning of Thursday 8 August, seven hours before the opening of the Fiesta.

“We called a management meeting at 10am on Wednesday morning, when we were in the middle of loading in 363 traders and framed a contingency plan to safely open the event early. We then spent the next four hours dealing with key stakeholders, who were all very supportive. Bristol City Council and North Somerset Council were key as the landowners and to gain site permissions to open the site to the public ahead of time.

“We drew in a higher audience for Thursday’s mass ascent than ever before, and images of the mass ascent have been seen around the world as our ‘Icons of Bristol’ theme was truly celebrated.”