150-year birthday bash will long be remembered

19:27, Mar 31 2014
Balloons over Waikato
DAY ONE: The Hamilton Mass Ascension at Innes Common, Hamilton Lake. It was cancelled due to wind.
Balloons over Waikato
DAY ONE: The Hamilton Mass Ascension at Innes Common, Hamilton Lake. It was cancelled due to wind.
Balloons over Waikato
DAY ONE: The Hamilton Mass Ascension at Innes Common, Hamilton Lake. It was cancelled due to wind.
Balloons over Waikato
DAY ONE: The Hamilton Mass Ascension at Innes Common, Hamilton Lake. It was cancelled due to wind.
Balloons over Waikato
DAY ONE: The Hamilton Mass Ascension at Innes Common, Hamilton Lake. It was cancelled due to wind.
Balloons over Waikato
DAY ONE: The Hamilton Mass Ascension at Innes Common, Hamilton Lake. It was cancelled due to wind.
Balloons over Waikato
DAY TWO: A large crowd gathers as the Angry Bird balloon is inflated.
Balloons over Waikato
DAY TWO: Annie Waters with children Lauren, two, Katrina, seven, and Aidan, five, came prepared with breakfast. breakfast to watch the balloons.
Balloons over Waikato
DAY TWO: And we have lift-off.
Balloons over Waikato
DAY TWO: Finn Litton, 9, and Chloe Wellman, 11, swing high as the Rocket man balloon inflates.
Balloons over Waikato
DAY TWO: Shane Gerard, right, hopes there’s enough milk for him as Jasmine Osborn soaks her cereal.
Balloons over Waikato
DAY TWO: The Hamilton balloon was the first to leave the ground for Balloons Over Waikato at Innes Common.
Balloons over Waikato
DAY TWO: Hamilton’s 150th birthday cake takes to the sky.
Balloons over Waikato
DAY TWO: Little balloons mesmerised some of the little folk who went along.
balloons over waikato
DAY THREE: There was a big crowd at Gordonton School for the launch of Sweet Pea.
balloons over waikato
FAY THREE: Baylee-Rose, 6, and Amber Bankier enjoy time together while the hot air balloon is inflated.
balloons over waikato
DAY THREE: Sweet Pea soared away through the fog on Friday morning.
balloons over waikato
SHOWTIME: The assembled, inflated and illuminated balloons made for a grand sight.
balloons over waikato
DAY FOUR: People got the chance to investigate the interior of a real hot air balloon as they waited for the Nightglow to begin.
balloons over waikato
DAY FOUR: Tareti Tata-Wirihana and Dylan Kenny scored a front-row position to watch the balloons.
balloons over waikato
DAY FOUR: Organisers’ estimates put the crowd at around 80,000.
balloons over waikato
DAY FOUR: The Angry Bird balloon seemed at times like some demonic deity from the underworld.
balloons over waikato
DAY FOUR: The balloon army appear to be skittled by an overhead explosion – but in reality they were being quickly deflated while the fireworks display drew everyone’s attention to the heavens.
balloons over waikato
DAY FIVE: Waikato Times videographer went up in a hot-air balloon on Sunday on the final day of Balloons Over Waikato.
balloons over waikato
DAY FIVE: Waikato Times videographer Mike Scott went up in a hot-air balloon on Sunday on the final day of Balloons Over Waikato.
balloons over waikato
DAY FIVE: Waikato Times videographer Mike Scott went up in a hot-air balloon on Sunday on the final day of Balloons Over Waikato.
balloons over waikato
DAY FIVE: Waikato Times videographer Mike Scott went up in a hot-air balloon on Sunday on the final day of Balloons Over Waikato.
balloons over waikato
DAY FIVE: Waikato Times videographer Mike Scott went up in a hot-air balloon on Sunday on the final day of Balloons Over Waikato.
balloons over waikato
DAY FIVE: Waikato Times videographer Mike Scott went up in a hot-air balloon on Sunday on the final day of Balloons Over Waikato.
balloons over waikato
DAY FIVE: Waikato Times videographer went up in a hot-air balloon on Sunday on the final day of Balloons Over Waikato.
balloons over waikato
DAY FIVE: Waikato Times videographer went up in a hot-air balloon on Sunday on the final day of Balloons Over Waikato.

A spectacle of flame and fabric filled Hamilton's night sky on Saturday as an estimated 80,000-strong crowd gathered on Waikato University's playing fields to watch the Nightglow.

The annual ballooning event helped mark the city's 150-year anniversary, as well as the university's 50th birthday, with a medley of rock songs and a birthday cake standing more than 29 metres high.

While the steadily-growing throng waited for darkness to fall, many took advantage of the numerous food stalls and carnival rides.

balloons
KER-BOOM: The balloon army appear to be skittled by an overhead explosion – but in reality they were being quickly deflated while the fireworks display drew everyone’s attention to the heavens.

Low thundering drums accompanied the inflation of the giant balloons at 8pm, while the crowd, many armed with cameras and waving glow sticks, grew quiet in anticipation.

The Hamilton 150th Birthday Balloon soon towered over the rest, dwarfed only by the 33-metre high Rocketman.

And then the event began.

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Illuminated by bursts of flame, each balloon became a visual instrument in a playlist of rock songs including, appropriately, Jerry Lee Lewis' Great Balls of Fire.

Australian balloonist Kerry Frankel said there was no mystery to why the event was such a big crowd-drawer.

"The spectacle of seven, eight and nine-storeyed globes glowing in the dark in a field set to music . . . People are quite surprised about how spectacular it looks."

The night finished with a massive fireworks display.

Waikato Times