12th Igualada European balloon Festival 2008

Published on Hot Air Balloons Meetings

An interesting and exciting competition at the 12th Igualada European balloon Festival.

Climate change made this year’s Igualada European Balloon Festival, held between the 2nd and 6th of July a very interesting and challenging event. Whilst the weather for the meeting was generally excellent, unusually rainy weather prior to the Festival meant that it had been impossible for the farmers to cut the crop fields. Pilots who have attended previous festivals will know that landing conditions are normally ideal with huge areas of cut crop fields with very easy landing and retrieve.


The lack of many cut fields made the flying more challenging and made the competitions even more exciting than previous years. However as a testimony to the excellent planning and arrangements made by the organisers and the skill of the pilots and crew there was not one single incident of upset farmers and a good relationship has been maintained. Everyone worked hard so as not to damage any crop. This was quite an achievement with well over 60 pilots attending the festival.

Once again many had travelled long distances to enjoy this special event. The event was a resounding success with 6 of the 7 possible flights taking place.


The event started after registration on Wednesday evening with attendance of the opening of a superb balloon photograph exhibition by Andres Magai Seibt held in the centre of Igualada followed by a welcome reception given by the town dignitaries for all of the pilots and crew held in the Town Hall in the centre of Igualada. Well over 60 pilots attended the meeting coming from most European countries, India and the Middle East as well as the home region of Catalonia and the other regions across the whole of Spain.

Unfortunately the press morning flight, which was to open the flying on Thursday morning, had to be cancelled due to unusually windy weather. The organisers made agood decision not wishing to cause possible landing problems right at the start of the event. However this did not affects press coverage with most national and local TV companies present attending later flights.

Weather conditions improved for the competition for the Thursday evening flight with a Hare and Hounds leading from the town centre launch site to the aerodrome where Ultramagic is based.


(What was the special balloon with the silver top? Many pilots asked! Future new – Watch This Space!)

Friday’s morning weather conditions were perfect, with gentle, easy competition conditions. Views on this morning flight were breathtaking with crystal clear skies with light winds. Winds also died down enough on the Friday evening to allow the competition to continue with stand up landings.

Saturday’s conditions again followed true to form with light wind flying conditions in the morning encouraging good competition in the event. A traditional Paella meal accompanied by live music was held on Saturday afternoon. This was later followed by a small number of balloons making the Saturday evening flight. Many chose not to make this flight preferring to be sure of a good position for the superb and very successful night glow.


Conditions for the night glow were perfect and once again the huge amount of public who attended were entertained by a superb orchestrated glow followed by a spectacular fireworks display. The firework spectacle seems to get better and more amazing each year. After this ended the traditional late night party then took place with an outdoor concert with live bands.

The meeting came to an end after flying in quite different weather conditions on the Sunday morning. Wind directions changed quite noticeably during the flight making the competition and landings challenging and interesting. However yet again there were no problems with landings giving a 100% success record for the pilots and organisers.

The Sunday morning flight was followed by a prize giving brunch with all of the pilots and organisers in attendance.

First place in the overall competition went to Joseba Garcia Mendicoechea (Balloon BBVA) from the Basque region of Spain. Second place went to Manel Rodriguez i Gonzalez (Balloon Demotek) from Catalunya. Albert Lopez (Balloon Biometrica) from Catalunya took third place.

The popular “Star” system of prizes was again awarded throughout the competition, which resulted in the presentation of large cash prizes to pilots or syndicates of pilots with 5 stars.




Good organisation and safe and responsible flying were without doubt the theme of this year’s event. The 12th Igualada International Balloon festival was a resounding success under much more difficult operational conditions than previous years. Excellent flights were enjoyed combined with a special friendship that always exists throughout this meeting.

Due to the very unusual conditions this year it is very probable that next years meeting will enjoy the normal large landing field options again. However what everyone will remember is that the meeting can work whatever happens due to the overall happy and positive atmosphere generated both by the organisers and teams.

We all look forward to the next Festival and planning has already started to make it even more successful than ever.