Wellingborough Balloon Festival organisers say they’ll be back next year despite some issues with first event

One of the hot air balloons over Kettering on Saturday

One of the hot air balloons over Kettering on Saturday

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Thousands of people attended the first Wellingborough Balloon Festival on Saturday and Sunday morning before adverse weather led to an early finish for the event.

A total of 10 balloons took to the skies on Saturday evening, flying over Orlingbury, Pytchley and Kettering, where many of the balloons landed.

Glyn Dobbs took this picture of a hot air balloon in Kettering on Saturday

Glyn Dobbs took this picture of a hot air balloon in Kettering on Saturday

On Sunday morning, the pilots of six balloons decided to take a chance on the weather and enjoyed a flight over Overstone, Kingsthorpe and Northampton town centre before many of the balloons landed close to the Grand Union Canal at Bugbroke.

In addition to the two flights, visitors to the event at Sywell Aerodrome were treated to a night glow which saw balloons illuminated to the sound of music.

Steph Roberts from SRPR managed the communications and social media for the festival, and said she was delighted with the response from the public.

She said: “We are absolutely delighted with the great feedback that has been sent in, alongside the many photographs and video footage.

There were some things that could be improved upon next year and we urge anyone who attended to send their comments to the Facebook page or our website

“There were some things that could be improved upon next year and we urge anyone who attended to send their comments to the Facebook page or our website.

“With the weather forecast so marginal on Saturday and Sunday morning, we were lucky to get any flying and we wholeheartedly thank the pilots who did fly for putting on such a great show.”

She added: “This event was for the county, and to see the views of the Northamptonshire countryside and landmarks from the air is one thing, but to then see pictures of balloons landing in parks with many local residents coming out to meet the pilots and help pack the balloons away, it just gives us a real feeling of achievement after working on event plans for so long.

“We will be back next year.

The bad weather led to organisers having to close the event earlier than planned

The bad weather led to organisers having to close the event earlier than planned

“Sywell is a great venue, but we do really need to look at how we manage admission so that we give everybody who attends the best value, and so that we also raise a good amount of money for the organisations we support.”

Michelle Tomkins, of Chelsea’s Angels, reported on social media that their Irthlingborough-based charity which raises money and awareness to fight childhood cancers including neuroblastoma had raised more than £300 on Saturday.

While Saturday turned out well, organisers were faced with a difficult decision on Sunday when the heavens opened, leaving the ground saturated and the forecast predicting further heavy rain for the remainder of the event.

Richard Garvie, who organised the event, said that although it left some people unhappy, the decision to cancel was the right thing to do for those who had pre-booked tickets to the event.

He said: “The weather on Sunday and forecasted weather on Monday meant there would be zero chance of any further flying.

“With stalls starting to pack away and with some of the fun fair packing up, it just wasn’t right for people to turn up to walk around a wet field in the heavy rain with nothing really going on.

“Full refunds will be issued to those with tickets for Sunday and Monday, and stallholders will receive a partial refund as they were unable to trade on Sunday or Monday.”

“The feedback from Saturday was amazing, and once everything is straightened out in terms of refunding those who need refunding, we will announce our plans for our 2016 event.

“If anyone is able to predict the future and/or the weather, please send us an email as we would love to add you to our team.”

Shortly after the announcement to close the event, the road from Wellingborough to Sywell was closed near Beckworth Emporium after a tree fell onto a car in the bad weather.

Anyone with pre-booked tickets to attend on Sunday or Monday can send an email to info@wellingboroughballoons.com to claim a refund.

Organisers expect the process to take about 28 days, although organisers say the bulk of refunds have already been processed.