MORE than 200 hot air balloons from around the world will be ascending from Longleat this Friday as part of Europe’s largest annual hot air balloon event.

Now in its fourth year, the three-day Sky Safari from Friday to Sunday, September 13-15, is one of the Wiltshire attraction’s most popular events.

It will feature spectacular mass launches, tethered daytime displays and dramatic night glows, as well as an international hot air balloon flying competition with £82,000 in prizes up for grabs.

Pilots from as far afield as the UK, USA, Japan, Canada, the United Arab Emirates, Spain, Germany and Lithuania will be taking part in the event as part of 170 individual teams, some of which will be flying multiple hot air balloons.

One of the stars of this year’s event is Adelaide, a giant koala hot air balloon, which will be taking to the skies to celebrate the opening of Longleat’s new Koala Creek which is home to a group of the iconic Australian marsupials.

Adelaide is part of an aerial ‘Safari Park’ which also features Simbaloo the lion, Duma the cheetah, a panther, Wes the wolf, a fox, a parrot, an owl and a guinea pig.

There will be as many as 30 other special shaped balloons making an appearance over the weekend; either flying or taking part in tethered displays.

They include everything from a flying recreation of the Brandenburg Gate, a giant emoji, the Ricoh cube and a full-sized version of the famous animated balloon from the Disney film Up.

Night glows, where tethered balloons are choreographed to a specially selected soundtrack, lighting up the night sky as their burners fire up in time to the music, will be taking place on Friday and Saturday.

Longleat’s Steve Mytton said: “This year’s Sky Safari is set to be the biggest and most spectacular to date with more than 200 balloons due to take to the skies throughout the event.

“We are also very much looking forward to officially welcoming Adelaide the koala to Longleat along with a menagerie of other animal-shaped hot air balloons.”

Longleat has partnered with Andrew Holly of Exclusive Ballooning to put on the event which has attracted current and former hot air ballooning world champions from Japan, USA and UK competitions.

Mr Mytton added: “Please be aware ballooning is weather dependent, and timings and launches may be subject to change.

“In particularly adverse conditions some launches and displays may have to be postponed or cancelled.”

Sky Safari is included as part of a Day Ticket to Longleat, however visitors are advised to book in advance at