16TH Igualada European Balloon Festival 2012

Published on Hot Air Balloons Meetings

Overwhelming Success –  Sixteenth Igualada European Balloon Festival

Pilots from northern Europe headed south again to Igualada to escape the bad weather to join fellow pilots from around the rest of Europe to take part in the 16th Igualada European Balloon festival. They were not disappointed as 6 of the 7 possible flying slots were all made in good conditions with only the Thursday evening being cancelled due to rain. The Saturday evening glow was also a great success despite more windy conditions than normal.  There were a number of changes to the event this year, including a slight change to the position of the launch field and the addition of a super large air conditioned marquee with an outside patio area for relaxing and taking refreshments under parasols. Larger separate parking areas had also been created to help cope with the large crowd influx from outside of Igualad who came to see the evening flights. News has now spread far and wide how good this event is.
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Nearly 50 pilots attended the event. Consequently, flying and associated competitions were just as exciting and interesting as in previous years. Early briefing always followed a super breakfast which was provided in the marquee. Morning flights were gentle and the pack of balloons generally went in a different direction on each day to add to the interest. With more cloud than in previous years on the morning flights it allowed a very relaxed and long flight to be made with packing and retrieve being done before the real heat of the day took over.    
What more could one want? How about a super fast refuelling facility which was set up close to the Ultramagic factory. Yes this meant that even more time was available to enjoy the rest of the day before the evening flight by either visiting the Ultramagic factory, sight seeing or just relaxing at good hotels or by the swimming pool.

The evening flights were short as in previous years with a windy take off being the norm.  The large crowds were appreciative of the effort put in by those who were able to make the evening flights possible with shouting and cheering for the pilots as each balloon launched.

The event formally started on the Wednesday evening with a welcome reception given by the town dignitaries for all of the pilots and crew which was held in the Town Hall in the centre of Igualada.  The high quality of food and drink was enjoyed all. The city Mayor gave a speech as did Josep Llado from Ultramagic. Everyone was immediately made to feel very welcome and relaxed.

The Festival opened with a great flight on the Thursday press morning in which all of the balloons followed the new Ultramagic Special Shape destined for the USA – “Reach For The Stars” – see separate news report.

Each day’s evening flying was followed by an excellent three course meal with drinks in the marquee. The traditional Paella meal accompanied by live music was held once again on Saturday afternoon. This took part under shade outside the Ultramagic factory in fantastic weather with an accompanying air display from local fixed wing aerobatic pilots!

   The prize giving this year was held on a stage at the launch field on the Saturday evening with music, lights and celebrity accompaniment, all to the applause of the huge crowd gathered for the balloon glow and fireworks display. Great cash prizes were also awarded via the “star” system as well as super trophies for the first three prize winners.  Later in the evening the glow proved to be a great success and this in turn was followed by a superb fireworks works display. 

The festival ended with a memorable and interesting flight on the Sunday morning followed by a closing brunch at the launch field marquee and bar area.  
As each year passes, the organisers work more and more to make this event very special. This is a balloon festival for pilots and public alike. I am sure that all who attended are already looking forward to next year’s event where even more new improvements are planned. Watch this place.  

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