The Canberra balloon spectacular, 2020…..

Every year March in Canberra is one of my favourite times. The days are still long, and generally warm without being scorchingly hot like the middle of Summer. The nights are starting to cool off and the trees begin to change colour. It’s also a fun time for activities with the family. Generally we have Enlighten, with all the iconic landmarks within the parliamentary triangle being lit up with various projections, night noodle markets and live entertainment. We also have the Balloon Spectacular. Both Enlighten and the balloons are always a hit with the kids.

This year, we didn’t all make it to Enlighten. Astrid and Soren, made a quick visit with Anto after a special ‘Questacon at Night session’. Miss Zinnia was too little to go to that one, so got to stay home with me. We had intended to go back to Enlighten as a whole family, but never go there, so no Enlighten pictures this year 🙁

Meanwhile, we didn’t realise the whole world, and life as we know it, was about to come to a stand-still due to Covid-19. Anto was about to head overseas for work and while we were keeping an eye on the coronavirus situation it was pretty much life as normal in Canberra.

The balloon festival commenced on Saturday the 7th of March this year, and with Anto heading overseas a couple of days later, we figured we’d try and get out to see if the balloons launched. We haven’t had much success in recent years in making it on a day they actually go up (it’s always weather dependent) and have often needed several attempts. Which unfortunately involves the adults needing to be up well before 5.30am several days in a row to check if they are launching.

This year though we hit gold! The first morning of the festival and they were going to launch…… it was also a mild morning by Canberra Autumn standards, so the perfect day out…..

We arrived in Parkes, just before dawn and joined the crowds milling on the lawns in the launch area.

Zinnia wasn’t sure why she was woken up so early, and taken out in the car before her morning bottle….. but she wasn’t complaining and happy to watch all the people and balloon preparations.

Pretty soon there were plenty of balloons being laid out, and the kids favourite bit, the burners firing up. It’s always spectacular in the cold and still mornings!

Colourful balloons were popping up everywhere, as hundreds of Canberrans (and tourists) were gathering around. Yep, this was a time before we had to practice social distancing and could all stand on top of each other!

Pretty soon there were plenty of upright balloons and a few were starting to launch. The kids had eaten some warm hot cross buns are were watching with excitement as they started lifting off into the beautiful morning…..

We’d not only been blessed with beautiful weather, but a glorious sunrise!

Zinnia was fascinated by the balloons, watching with glee as they inflated and lifted off……..

Pretty soon the Canberra sky was dotted with bright coloured balloons, drifting gently over the Parliamentary Triangle towards Lake Burley Griffin.

We’d picked a great morning, beautiful weather, a gorgeous sunrise and so many balloons inflating that there was a constant stream of them inflating and launching for almost an hour.

Zinnia, never one to sit still, was happy in her stroller watching as they popped up off the ground and launched. If you asked her where the balloons were, she’d point up and laugh!

With light winds the morning sky was dotted with colourful balloons drifting gently around for quite some time. We watched each wave inflate and launch, but the kids were holding out for one last thing, the rumoured giant dinosaur!

Finally, with not many left still to inflate we spied what looked like it may just be what they had been patiently waiting for. We wandered over to where dino was inflating for a closer look…..

Yep, definitely a giant dinosaur, and he wasn’t small!!!

As a bonus we’d also run into Astrid’s school friend, Catherine, and family. Another impromptu play date (we’d also run into them in Brisbane airport at the end of school holidays both returning from overseas trips). Yep a time when kids could have playdates and you could travel overseas, seems like just the other month 😉

After the successful inflation of Mr dinosaur and Soren spotting a dinosaur walking amongst the crowd, we convinced the children that it was time to get ourselves some warm breakfast (and more coffee for the adults).

We bid farewell to the dinosaur as the last few balloons drifted over Old Parliament House, and headed back to the car with a plan for an impromptu cafe breakfast at our of our nearby favourites, Doubleshot.

Oh those heady days, where you could just pop out for brunch with your family after a morning activity with half of Canberra! Yep that brunch was pretty good. The kids scored well with the banana, waffle concoction!

It turns out this was our last brunch out as a family and our last big social activity before life has been put on hold for awhile. At least we did it in style! Another great balloon festival and here’s hoping life is back to normal soon and we can have a few more adventures together soon. It was definitely worth the early alarm, a fun morning out for all 5 of us (and plenty of coffee required for the rest of the day)……

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