Check out the full line-up of events on during the Balloons Over Waikato Festival, from mass morning ascensions to evening shows, community events and much more.
Tuesday 19th March
The Hamilton Mass Ascension - 7:00am, Innes Common, Hamilton Lake
Mark the start to the festival with the mass inflation of balloons at Innes Common at Hamilton Lake. Take the entire family and marvel at the breath-taking sight as the balloons lift off
Wednesday 20th March
The Grassroots Trust Birthday Bash - 7:30am, Innes Common, Hamilton Lake
Day 2 of birthday celebrations sees all the balloons inflate and prepare to take to the skies above Hamilton. Come meet The Gallagher Chiefs who will be onsite all morning. A great chance to get an autograph or a photo and have a chat to the players.
Thursday 21st March
Wel Energy Trust Breakfast - 7:00am, Innes Common, Hamilton Lake
Take the family to watch the balloons lift off just as dawn breaks. The first 2,000 will also enjoy a free breakfast.
Friday 22nd March
First Credit Union Friday Festival - 7:00am, Innes Common, Hamilton Lake
Enjoy day 4 of the birthday celebrations and share in the fun with First Credit Union who add a market feel to Innes Common with food, games and entertainment. A great way to start the day whilst watching the balloons take to the skies.
Balloons Visit Waipa - 5:00pm - 8:00pm, Victoria Square, Cambridge
Taking the joy of the event and sharing it with the community with this fun evening planned for those lucky residents of Cambridge and surrounding communities. There will be loads of food vendors, entertainment, & hot air balloons! Plus, come and experience the magic of a hot air balloon from the inside out with our Walk Through Balloon - and all for just a gold coin donation (in support of our Charity of Choice - Rotary International). All thanks to Waipa District Council.
The City Burn & Markets brought to you by Hamilton Central - 6:00pm - 8:00pm, Garden Place, Hamilton City
Celebrating another aspect of our fabulous city, the Hamilton Central Business Association brings the festival to Garden Place on Friday night! Surround yourselves in a family friendly atmosphere, with delicious food and markets and get your groove on with live music from Enigma. This evening will culminate with a spectacular choreographed basket burn, all set to music, at 8.00pm. Make sure you don't miss this one.
Saturday 23rd March
McDonalds Hamilton's Happy Birthday - 7:00am, Innes Common, Hamilton Lake
The last day of flying at the event. Don't miss the opportunity to see all of our balloons for the last time. Marvel at the skill as balloonists attempt to grab a key off the top of a pole to win $1,000. The balloonists will also compete in the Shortest Distance Competition, where they see who can hit the bullseye whilst flying the shortest distance possible.
Zuru Nightglow - 4:00pm - 9:00pm, University of Waikato, Hamilton
The biggest night of the festival is the Zuru Nightglow with carnival entertainment, food vendors, live music. Of course the Zuru Nightglow would not be the same without the breathtakingly stunning Balloon Glow Show, and topping off the night with a dramatic fireworks finale.
Make the most of your short escape with these great activity suggestions. From underground wonders and Middle-earth Movie Magic to wildlife encounters, kayak trips and much more.
- Waitomo Glowworm Caves: Visit the world famous Waitomo Glowworm Caves and gaze in awe at the galaxy of glowworms.
- Hobbiton Movie Set: (pictured) Discover movie magic with a guided tour through the permanent set as seen in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit film trilogies.
- Hamilton Gardens: Explore the award-winning Hamilton Gardens and discover different civilisations and historically important garden styles from the farthest reaches of the world.
- SKYCITY Hamilton: Check out SKYCITY Hamilton's new Bowl & Social for ten pin bowling, great food and timezone games.
- Watiomo Adventures: Get your adrenaline pumping with a zipline, abseil or black water rafting trip with Waitomo Adventures, or try their newest family friendly tour, the Troll Cave.
- Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari: Discover Plentiful walks through native forest for close encounters with birdlife and reptiles.
- Hamilton Zoo: Get up close and personal with exotic animals such as Lemur and Rhino with a Eye2Eye encounter at Hamilton Zoo.
- Waikato Museum: With top art, history and interactive kids exhibitions the Waikato Museum is a perfect indoor activity for the entire family.
- Hampton Downs: Challenge friends and family to a few laps of go karting at Hampton Downs.
- Good George Brewery: Learn all about the brewing process and their award-winning beers with a Brewery Tour, or enjoy a bite to eat in the dining hall.
- Zealong Tea Estate: Treat yourself to a high tea overlooking the stunning tea plantation.
- Raglan Kayak & Paddleboard: Explore Raglan's limestone coast with kayak & paddleboard tours and rentals.
- Raglan Surf School: Learn to surf on Raglan's world famous left-hand surf breaks.
- Lake District Adventures: Take a magical glowwom kayak tour on Lake Karapiro, or hire some bikes to explore the Waikato River Trails.
- GoSkydive: If you are feeling brave why not give Tandem skydiving a go and experience breathtaking views of both east and west coasts, Waikato River and Hamilton and Auckland Cities.
- Plus much more.
From inner city hotels and motels to rural lodges and beachside holiday parks, the region boasts a range of accommodation to suit all budgets and tastes.
- Novotel Tainui Hamilton: On the banks of the Waikato River, within a short distance of the Hamilton City section of the Te Awa cycleway, Novotel offers all the creature comforts of a large hotel.
- Distinction Hamilton Hamilton: (pictured) Boasting 147 rooms and suites, many refurbished in 2017, free unlimited Wi-Fi, restaurant & bar, fitness centre, indoor swimming pool & spa pools.
- Ibis Tainui Hamilton: The hotel presents the only restaurant in the city with breath taking views of the Waikato River - a great place to enjoy unique local flavors
- Ventura Inn & Suites Hamilton: A warm welcome that's worth checking into - Ventura is great value accommodation for a night away.
- Kelly Rd Cambridge: Contemporary, luxury accommodation including studio units and one/two bedroom apartments in Cambridge.