The Big Picture

Hot-air balloon festivals

Hot-air balloon festivals are a visual treat for many. Not only do they provide a stunning perspective for their passengers, but their playful shapes, colors, and themes make these floating vessels excellent subject matter for photographers, both on the ground and in the sky. Here is a look at some of the 2015 balloonist gatherings around the globe.--By Leanne Burden Seidel
1
A hot-air balloon flies over fields on the outskirts of Minsk on July 18, during the Second International Aeronautics Championship. About 70 pilots from Belarus, Ukraine, Russia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Moldova and New Zealand take part in the championship. (Sergei Gapon/AFP/Getty Images)
2
Attendees watch as hot-air balloons lift off during the 2015 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, N.M., Oct. 7. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)
3
Participants prepare their hot-air balloon prior to the start of the XXVI. International Balloon Meeting in Ocseny, Hungary, Oct. 4. (Tamas Sokit/EPA)
4
A launch director signals attendees to get out of the way as a hot-air balloon lands on the first day of the 2015 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, Oct. 3. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)
5
A pilot uses burners to inflate a hot-air balloon during the 2015 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, N.M., Oct. 7. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)
6
Hundreds of hot-air balloons take off during the 2015 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, N.M, Oct. 4. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)
7
Fifth graders at D.G. Cooley Elementary School in Berryville, Va. wave at two of their teachers taking a hot-air ballooon ride as part of a science lesson, Sept. 9. (Jeff Taylor/The Winchester Star via AP)
8
A hot-air balloon floats over a home during the 2015 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, N.M., Oct. 5. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)
9
Hot-air balloons are prepared for a flight as others take off during an international hot air balloon festival at Maayan Harod National park in northern Israel, Sept. 30. (Baz Ratner/Retuers)
10
People prepare hot-air balloons near Chambley-Bussieres airbase, eastern France, on July 26, on the first day of the international air-balloon meeting "Lorraine Mondial Air Ballons". (Jean-Christophe Verhaegan/AFP/Getty Images)
11
A young boy runs across a field as hundreds of hot-air balloons lift off on the first day of the 2015 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, N.M, Oct. 3. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)
12
A hot-air balloon floats past a rising moon over Rancho Santa Fe, California Sept. 25. (Mike Blake/Reuters)
13
A view of a hot-air balloon in the shape of Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh's head at the Montgolfiade festival venue in Warstein, Germany, Sept. 9. (Bernd Thissen/EPA)
14
Attendees are seen on a field with hot-air balloons that are being prepared before take off during the 2015 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, N.M., Oct. 4. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)
15
Participants prepare their hot-air balloon prior to the start of the XXVI. International Balloon Meeting in Ocseny, Hungary, Oct. 4. (Tamas Soki/EPA)
16
Hot-air balloons lift off on the first day of the 2015 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, N.M., Oct. 3. (Lucas Jackson /Reuters)
17
An inflated Panda Bear character hot-air balloon flies during the 33rd annual QuickChek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning at Solberg Airport on July 24, in Readington, N.J. The festival featured as many as 100 balloons, including many large, shaped balloons of Darth Vader, Master Yoda, an American Flag, a giant whale, and a baby dinosaur. (Mel Evans/Associated Press)
18
Attendees watch and photograph as hundreds of hot-air balloons lift off on the first day of the 2015 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, N.M., Oct. 3. (Lucas Jackson /Reuters)
19
Attendees walk past a hot-air balloon as it is lit by flame while being prepared for take off on the first day of the 2015 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, N.M, Oct. 3. (Lucas Jackson /Reuters)
20
Balloons take to the skies at a preview flight to launch next week's Tribute Bristol International Balloon Fiesta on July 31, in Bristol, England. The four day event is Europe's largest annual hot-air balloon event in the city that is seen as many as the home of modern ballooning. (Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
21
First graders at the Harrison Avenue Elementary School react to the sound of a hot-air balloon being inflated as part of the first day of the 2015 Adirondack Balloon Festival, Sept. 17, in Glen Falls, N.Y. (Steve Jacobs/The Post-Star via AP)
22
Visitors to a hot-air balloon launch watch and admire the ballons as part of the first day of the 2015 Adirondack Balloon Festival, Sept. 17, in Glen Falls, N.Y. (Steve Jacobs/The Post-Star via AP)
23
Visitors to a hot-air balloon launch watch and admire the ballons as part of the first day of the 2015 Adirondack Balloon Festival, Sept. 17, in Glen Falls, N.Y. (Steve Jacobs/The Post-Star via AP)
24
A hot-air balloon casts a shadow on a meadow with cows near Ebnat-Kappel, Switzerland, 12 Sept. Toggenburg's 7the Balloon days attracted some dozens of balloonists. (Gian Ehrenzeller/EPA)
25
Hot-air balloons fly during the Montgolfiade hot air balloon festival near Moehnesee  Germany, Sept. 11. (Bernd Thissen/dpa via AP)
26
A Minion shaped balloon takes to the skies on the first day of the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta at the Ashton Court estate on August 6, in Bristol, England. (Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
27
A balloon flies during a mass launch at the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta in south west England, August 7. The largest hot-air balloon festival in Europe takes place over four days and is in it's 37th year. (Toby Melville/Reuters)
28
Crew members inflate a balloon during a mass launch at the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta in south west England August 7. (Toby Melville/Reuters)
29
A balloon flies over a camping site in Bristol during a mass launch at the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta in south west England August 7. The largest hot-air balloon festival in Europe takes place over four days and is in it's 37th year. (Toby Melville/Reuters)
30
Balloons take to the skies on the first day of the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta at the Ashton Court estate on August 6, in Bristol, England. (Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
31
A photographer's shadow is seen as a crew inflates their hot-air balloon during the 33rd annual QuickChek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning at Solberg Airport, July 24, in Readington, N.J. (Mel Evans/Associated Press)
32
Hot air balloons fly over the Chambley Airbase, northeastern France, on July 31, during the international hot-air balloons meeting "Lorraine Mondial Air Ballons in Hageville.” (Jean-Christophe Verhaegen/AFP/Getty Images)
33
A hot-air balloon is reflected in a pond during a morning launch at the Jackson Hot Air Jubilee at Ella Sharp Park in Jackson, Mich., July 18. (Jessica Christian/The Jackson Citizen via AP)
34
A photographer takes pictures near an inflated Master Yoda character hot-air balloon during the 33rd annual QuickChek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning at Solberg Airport, July 24, in Readington, N.J. (Mel Evans/Associated Press)
35
A hot-air balloon is seen at the Cup Hot Air event during the Air Sports festival titled "70 Years of Peaceful Sky" on the outskirts of Minsk, Belarus July 18. (Vasily Fedosenko/Reuters)
36
Balloons fly over Bristol during a mass launch at the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta in south west England, August 7. (Toby Melville/Reuters)
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