Attracting more than 3,000 people on the inaugural day, Qatar’s ﬁrst Hot Air Balloon Festival began yesterday at Aspire Park. “Being held for the first time in Qatar, the event will continue for 12 days, until December 18, as 33 hot air balloons from 13 countries adorn the skies over Aspire Park,” said Noof Al Saffar (Pictured), a member of the organising committee of Qatar’s Hot Air Balloon Festival.
Teams from UK, India, the US, Italy, Croatia, Portugal, Ireland, France and Qatar are taking part in the event. Noufah Al Saffar said that the 12-day event of majestic sights are combined with live music, and guests could enjoy cuisines from best brands, kids’ entertainment, balloon night glow and more.
The event has been scheduled to coincide with three major events in the country namely the 24th Edition of Arabian Gulf Cup Tournament; the 2019 FIFA Club World Cup and Qatar National Day celebrations, she added. Hundreds of spectators gathered at Aspire Park to see the balloons lined up and anchored to the ground, being inflated with fans, before flames of hot air were blasted from the burners.
“It looks great,” said Abdullah Faqeri, a 40-year-old Canadian resident of Doha, who brought his young son along. “I never thought that it would be this big. I haven’t seen it before from up-close,” he told.
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There will be a flight every day at 6.15am where all the balloons will be flying in the direction of the prevailing wind for about 30 to 45 minutes. The (free) flights will be a spectacular scene to watch over Doha skies. Also, there will be flights plus tethering in the early afternoon at 2pm as well as a nightglow at 6:30pm after which the festival will close by 8:30pm everyday. Visitors will not be able to ride inside the balloon, only watch them from the ground. ‘Free flight’ means the balloons are not tied to the ground or an anchor point and people will see the balloon flying in the air. Tethered flights from 2pm until sunset will see balloons inflated and tied to anchor points in the arena and flown up to 20 meters high.