Autumn in Canberra is heralded not just by the fiery colours of the deciduous trees, but by the iconic Canberra Balloon Fiesta. Over nine crisp mornings in March, a colourful cavalcade of hot air balloons take to the air from the lawns of Old Parliament House. Watch the magical display with thousands of other early risers or take a hot air balloon ride yourself. Either way, it’s a great way to start your Canberra day, especially when accompanied by a hot breakfast and live entertainment. Afterwards, get out and visit Canberra’s national museums, galleries, wineries and auburn-tinged parks.
Balloon pilots and crews from across the world head to Canberra for the annual fiesta, which draws even the most dedicated sleepers from their beds. Get there at 6.30am to see the start of the surreal skyward procession. In past years the creative balloon designs have included a house, kookaburra, giant frog, pair of dancing honeybees and replica of Vincent Van Gogh’s head. It’s an awesome site to see the multitude of the balloons sailing into crisp, blue autumn skies, reflected in the pond of Old Parliament House.
Enjoy the camaraderie on the ground, or book ahead with a ballooning company to join this colourful floating exhibition. It’s a unique way to see Australia’s capital. Canberra is one of the few places where balloons can fly so close to houses of government. Take advantage of the view as you drift over iconic national buildings such as the Old and New Parliament House, the National Gallery, National Museum and War Memorial. Float over the shimmering spread of Lake Burley Griffin and see the city’s parklands bordered by avenues of autumnal trees. You’ll rise as the day lightens and descend in time to enjoy the live entertainment and a warm breakfast.
It’s a serene, spirit-lifting way to start your holiday in Canberra, where all of Australia’s national monuments, museums and galleries sit. Explore the fascinating capital attractions and enjoy the clear, sunny autumn days around the lake or in the city’s expansive bushland. Within the city, you can canoe or kayak Lake Burley Griffin, bushwalk in the Australian National Botanic Garden or Canberra Nature Park and hike to the top of Black Mountain for panoramic views. Drive a little further for swimming, boating, fishing and picnics along the Murrumbidgee River Corridor. Wind through the native wildlife sanctuary in Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve or get your adventure fix in the accessible wilderness of Namadgi National Park, part of the mountainous Australian Alps. If this all sounds too active, drive the Poachers Trail through Canberra’s rolling wine country, which takes on spectacular rusty hues in autumn. The scenic route winds past vineyards, art galleries, charming cafes, candle-lit restaurants and rustic bed and breakfasts.
All the more reason to drift into the Canberra Balloon Fiesta this autumn.