EARLY next month the skies above Northam and the Avon Valley will be adorned with 30 hot air balloons during the National Ballooning Championships.
From September 2-9 international, interstate and local hot air balloon pilots will descend on the Avon Valley, testing their skills at varying winds and altitudes.
National Balloon Championship organising committee chairman Gren Putland said to see so many colourful balloons in the sky at the one time is a visual treat for spectators.
Public festivities start on Saturday, September 2 with the Northam Balloon Fiesta from 4pm and the Balloon Glow after dark at the Henry Street Oval – weather permitting.
The fiesta will include a live stage show, balloon discovery zone, carnival rides, game zone, markets, food and drinks and show bags. The competition balloons will fire up with musical accompaniment at about 7.30pm with a fireworks finale.
Each day enthusiasts can see the balloons flying across the rolling hills and valleys at dawn and again in the afternoon if weather conditions are suitable.
Spectating opportunities are available at various locations around Northam.
Another highlight will be the Key Grab competition, which is a flying task for the balloons departing from the Northam Airfield at first light on Saturday, September 9.
Pilots fly from point to point, collecting foam ‘keys’ from the end of 10m poles in several locations.
The championships course and best viewing spots will differ each day based on wind conditions.
Spectators can check the event’s Facebook page (Northam Nationals) to see where flights will be each day, or start at the Northam Aero Club at Withers St to be directed from there to where balloons will take off from that day.