Balloons Over Waikato Festival 2016

Balloons Over Waikato Festival 2016 - photo courtesy of


Balloons Over Waikato

It’s that time of the year to look up and admire the many shapes, sizes and colors of the balloons over Waikato!

The Balloons over Waikato Trust is a non-profit organisation and has been successfully running this event for the previous 16 years. The Festival is a major iconic event for the general public on the annual calendar in both Hamilton and the Waikato Region. Six times voted Best Waikato Event by the public of Hamilton, this event is must do in the Waikato events calendar. We were lucky enough in 2015 to win the Best Established Community Event in New Zealand at the NAEP Awards.

Balloons over Waikato is New Zealand’s premier hot air balloon festival. Held annually, in Hamilton, this five-day icon event it is arguably the most popular event in the city. It attracts balloonists from all over New Zealand and around the world, who come to experience the fun, friendship and warmth this balloon friendly city provides and to demonstrate their skills in a range of competitive activities.

The Event runs for five days in late March at Innes Common, Hamilton Lake and The University of Waikato grounds.

Balloons Over Waikato Festival Event Full Line-Up

Wednesday 16th March

  • The Hamilton Mass Ascension – 7:30am, Innes Common, Hamilton LakeMark 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.

Thursday 17th March

  • Wel Energy Trust Breakfast at Dawn – 6:30am, Innes Common, Hamilton LakeTake the family to watch the balloons lift off just as dawn breaks. The first 2,000 will also enjoy a free breakfast.
  • First Credit Union School Hop – 12pm, Various Hamilton schoolsA number of local Hamilton schools will experience the wonder of hot air ballooning when the pilots and crew take their balloons out into the community for the School Hop.

Friday 18th March

  • The Great Grassroots Lift Off – 7:30am, Innes Common, Hamilton LakeIf you missed the first mass morning ascensions then this is your opportunity to catch this unique event.
  • Balloons Visit South Waikato – 6pm – 8pm, Tokoroa War Memorial Sports GroundSharing the joy of the Balloons Over Waikato event with the wider Waikato region, this evening includes food vendors, entertainment and hot air balloons, including the walk through balloon.
  • Balloons Visit Te Kuiti – 6pm – 8pm, Te Kuiti DomainFor the first time, Balloons Over Waikato will also be visiting Te Kuiti, with food vendors, entertainment and the 2016 special shapes.
  • The City Burn & Markets – 6pm – 8pm, Garden Place, HamiltonBalloons Over Waikato heads into the heart of Hamilton city for the City Burn event on Friday night. The carnival atmosphere includes live entertainment, delicious food from Gourmet in the Gardens vendors and a choreographed basket burn.

Saturday 19th March

  • Smartrak Cash Grab Competition – 7:30am, Innes Common, Hamilton LakeA unique feature of the festival, the Cash Grab event will see the balloon pilots test their skills as they try to remove $1,000 from the top of a pole in the middle of Hamilton Lake.
  • Zuru Nightglow – 4pm – 9pm, University of Waikato, HamiltonThe biggest night of the festival is the Zuru Nightglow. With carnival rides and games, food vendors, live music and the stunning Balloon Glow Show which will have the balloons lighting up to music, topped off with a fireworks display to wrap up the evening.

Sunday 20th March

  • Gallagher Foundation & Trust Finale – 7:30am, Innes Common, Hamilton LakeThe festival wraps up with the final mass morning ascension form Innes Common at Hamilton Lake.

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