London's skies will be filled with beautiful hot air balloons this May

I don’t want to sound like a steampunk apologist but you’ve got to admit that hot air balloons are the most beautiful form of transport out there: even the most jaded city cynic will stop to marvel at the rare sight of technicoloured gondolas, floating through the skies. So you’d have thought that an annual festival where dozens of hot air balloons soar over central London would be accompanied by a tsunami of hype.

But actually, most people have never heard of the Lord Mayor’s Hot Air Balloon Regatta. And that’s because balloons are finicky sorts of things. The Regatta had to be cancelled in 2020 because of Covid. Then, bad weather put paid to Londoners’ balloon-gazing dreams in 2021 and 2022.

The last time the event actually happened was in 2019, when 46 balloons were launched from Battersea Park, many of them sponsored by different corporations: the beady-eyed owl and the green floating boot were particular highlights. 

This year’s event has three possible dates, to maximise the chances of a balloon bonanza. Look to the skies on Sunday May 14, Sunday May 21, or failing that, Sunday July 2, and you might just glimpse the big display. Check the balloon regatta website for updates, nearer the time. Let’s hope that stormy weather doesn’t burst our collective bubble.

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