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Welcome back to Balloons over Waikato

After a turbulent couple of years, Balloons over Waikato ‘Welcomes Back’ our community to a much anticipated fully open event, which will include public morning flying, an all-new ZURU Nightglow, the return of Special Shapes, International pilots, and balloons from all over the world.

Hot Air Balloons will bring magic to the Waikato skies, from Tuesday 14th March with the Hamilton City Council Opening Fiesta, lifting off from 7.30am at Innes Common, Hamilton Lake. Throughout the week competitive flying tasks continue each morning from Innes Common with the Grassroots Trust Lift Off, WEL Energy Trust Muffins in the Morning, the First Credit Union Fun Friday and the Radius Care Cash Grab on Saturday morning.

The Balloons will pop up in other locations this year, with the appearance of the CBD Events Walk Through Balloon envelope setting up on Garden Place on Saturday 11th March, from 11am and late night Thursday 16th. Then on Friday evening you can either head to Base in Te Rapa for dinner and enjoy the hot & fiery Base Basket Burn or head to Mighty River Power Domain where the Balloons visit Waipa.

The Special Shaped Hot Air Balloons are always the stars of the show, and event manager Michele Connell, is thrilled to confirm 2 Special Shapes will fly at the festival after a 2-year absence.

 “We have 2 gorgeous Special Shapes coming from the USA, Tico the Sloth and Tiger.  Special Shapes are truly unique and with none residing in NZ, they are simply stunning to see both on the ground and in the air, and we are so excited to have them back with us again”.

Hamilton’s biggest night out is The ZURU Nightglow, and this year will be more central, in the venue where it all began …. The Claudelands Oval.  All your favourite bits remain the same, 5 hours of live entertainment on the main stage, carnival rides and games, food trucks and the glorious orchestrated hot air balloon glow culminating in the SkyCity Hamilton Fireworks Extravaganza.  The one important change you need to know, this year to come along … you must get a FREE ticket.

Event Manager Michele Connell remembers, “ In 1990  the very first Nightglow was held at Claudelands with 10 balloons and a crowd of around 4000.  Fast forward 23 years later, and the event has grown into a crowd of over 85,000 wanting to attend.  Our community is a very different place in 2023 and to ensure, we continue to provide a family friendly, fun, and safe environment  for everyone, we felt the move back to where it all began at  Claudelands was a good one.”

Michele continues … “There is great pedestrian access in and out of Claudelands, with options to park in town and walk across the bridges, as well as parking options around the venue.  However, we do encourage visitors to take advantage of our Free Park & Ride buses operating from right around the city.  You can book your FREE ticket for these when booking your ZURU Nightglow tickets through Ticketek.”

Getting yourself tickets for the ZURU Nightglow is EASY…  FREE tickets will be available from 3rd February through Ticketek, and all you need to do is go to, click on the FREE ticket link and fill in your details to obtain yours.  Be in quick, tickets are limited.

Recognising the different needs of the ZURU Nightglow fans is very important to the Balloons over Waikato team, and they understand large crowds are not for everyone.  So, plans are coming together for the ZURU Nightglow to be live streamed as well.

However you connect with Balloons over Waikato, whether it be coming to Innes Common, heading to the ZURU Nightglow, dancing at the Base Basket Burn, or just standing on your front lawn in your pyjamas waving to the balloons as they float by … this event is for you and ‘We Welcome You back’ in March 2023!

Visit for all the information you need, or like them on Facebook for the most up to date daily flying information.