Get ready to rock 'n glow - balloons fired for liftoff
Rock fans get ready - tonight the balloons will be glowing to a soundtrack including Queen, The Who and The Rolling Stones.
Billed as "the highlight of the festival for spectators", the ASB Nightglow kicks off at 4pm at Waikato University.
The Balloons Over Waikato crowd-pleaser pulls in between 75,000 and 85,000 spectators each year.
It's a high point for balloonists too, Nightglow director Trevor Graham said.
Despite all he'll have to keep track of on the night, he was excited about the rock-themed glow.
"It's a great feeling being in charge of all that power in front of me, but it is quite stressful. There's a lot of things to think about and a lot of things to do to make it happen," he said.
"I do nightglows and events all over the world so I think Balloons Over Waikato is certainly one of the best balloon events that I do, and it's got one of the best reputations in the ballooning world as a fantastic show."
He'd come up with a Hamilton rocks theme to reflect the party atmosphere - as the university celebrates 50 years, and Hamilton city 150 years.
So the music will be "all good danceable stuff".
The 7.45pm "glow" will feature special shapes, standard balloons and basket-burners.
Event manager Michele Connell said "five hours of fantastic entertainment" would start at 4pm, and a new layout meant it was easier to get up close.
Punters could expect a greater frontage, better viewing from the bank, and "basically more area to get up close to the balloons and the stage at the same time".
Because of the two anniversaries being celebrated as part of the event, music from five decades would be performed and the fireworks display by Martin van Tiel would be the festival's biggest yet, she said.
Free parking was available at the university's Gate 1 and Gate 10, and there would be $5 parking at Melody Lane at Waikato Innovation Park, Mrs Connell said.
For those who don't want to deal with traffic and parking, free buses will be run from 4.15-7pm.
The buses, run by the Waikato Regional Council, will depart from five different areas of Hamilton, and collect and drop passengers at marked event bus stops along the route.
The departure and return points are Melville High School, Frankton Primary School, Grosvenor Park in Rototuna, a river shuttle from opposite 1105 River Road, and a central shuttle from Victoria St, outside the BNZ.
After the Nightglow, buses will run until all passengers have boarded for their return journey.
For further route information, visit busit.co.nz/General/BUSIT-to-the-Night-Glow-/
4pm: Musical entertainment and rides start
6pm: Royal New Zealand Air Force flying display in a CT-4E Airtrainer
7.45pm: The Glow
8.20pm: Firework display
8.30pm: The "Afterglow" with more music.