The skies will be filled with bursts of colour as the National Ballooning Championships make a triumphant return to Northam in Western Australia.
Pilots from across Australia will demonstrate their prowess for flying the vibrant and magical aircraft from May 6-13.
With the course spanning 30x40km, there will be plenty of vantage points for visitors to see more than 20 balloons gliding over the Avon Valley's rolling hills.
Pilots will test their skills at varying winds and altitudes, competing twice per day at dawn and late afternoon (weather permitting) over five days (May 8-13).
Pilots will have practice flights on May 6-7, providing another great opportunity to admire the hot air balloons.
One of the highlights is the Balloon Glow at Elevate Festival on May 6, which acts as a prelude to the championship. About 15 hot air balloons will go up with burners ignited periodically, lighting the night sky.
Complementing the glow will be entertainment, markets, and food trucks. Northam will also host a number of activities throughout the week including a History of Ballooning display, and a star gazing event where visitors will learn Aboriginal cultural stories of the night sky. Northam is an official AstroTourism Town - renowned for its incredible night skies, so visitors can enjoy the balloons by day and the stars by night.
Northam hosted the Championships in 2017, 2015, 1981 and 1984, while the 2019 event was held in Mudgee, NSW. The 2021 event was called off because of COVID restrictions.
The town's attractions and accommodation options including the Farmers' Home Hotel, The Temperance Bar and The Bilya Koort Boodja Centre for Nyoongar Culture and Environmental Knowledge.
The national competition will be used to select the pilots who will represent Australia at the World Hot Air Ballooning Championships later this year.
Previously the competition has been held in September, but this time it's in May.
Current national champion and balloon manufacturer Sean Kavanagh said Northam provided perfect ballooning conditions.
"It is exciting to get back to Northam and finally have a chance to defend my title. It will be interesting to see how the different time of year changes the flying area and it may be a bit of a test for those of us who are used to flying here later in the year."
"Northam has a great mix of flying conditions that challenge pilots. The surrounding farmland is a joy to fly over and the people of Northam always support the event and teams when it comes time to land."
Northam is about a 90-minute drive north of Perth.
For tickets to the free Elevate Festival visit Eventbrite and search for "Elevate Festival".
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