Where to Watch Balloons from the City Centre

The International Balloon Fiesta is returning to Bristol this weekend, but if you’re not able to get up to Ashton Court for the main event, why not pitch up at one of these city centre spots to watch the balloons go by


A roof terrace in the heart of the city centre – what better place to get an unobstructed view of the Balloon Fiesta? Grab a bite to eat and enjoy two cocktails for £10 between 4pm-9pm whilst the sky is filled with hot air balloons all weekend.

King Street Brew House

The first of multiple King Street venues to feature on this guide, King Street Brew House boasts the largest outdoor seating area of the bunch and so more chance of nabbing a seat to watch the balloons from. They also have an on-site microbrewery so their beer choices are refreshingly different to the standard (although they do have some usual suspects if you’re a creature of habit!)

Marriott Hotel Outdoor Urban Terrace

Something of a hidden gem, the Marriott Hotel terrace provides a secluded oasis amidst the hustle and bustle of the city. Relax with a drink and a snack or challenge a friend to a game of ping-pong while you’re waiting to catch a glimpse of the evening ascent. 

Arnolfini Cafe

Alongside balloons filling the sky, another sign that summer has arrived in Bristol is swarms of people lining the Harbourside outside the Arnolfini Café. Head down on the Friday of the Balloon Fiesta and you’ll be treated to Buoy Events Harbour Nights too, a fab street food market with street food traders and DJ’s. 

Mud Dock

With the picturesque Harbourside below and 360 views of the city sky, Mud Dock is the only place to get that Instagram-worthy shot of the Balloon Fiesta that truly sums up Bristol summertime. Be sure to get down early if you want a seat on the terrace though!

The Apple

At the end of King Street you’ll find The Apple – a cider bar on a boat. Whilst the boat itself has no outdoor seating, the vast courtyard it’s docked at gets great sun and clear views, ideal for balloon watching. With a pint of cider in hand, what could be more Bristolian? 

Small Bar

Another King Street haunt, Small Bar stays true to its name with its outdoor offerings. Despite this the slim row of benches not only gives great views of the balloons but also gets the sun for most of the day, so it’s the ideal spot if you’re pitching up for the duration. 

The Bank Tavern

Despite pitching itself as a “uniquely inhospitable place” The Bank Tavern, tucked away in the Old City, offers great food, tasty beers and a fantastic courtyard – the perfect combination for watching the balloons go by. It’s also fairly secluded, making it feel like you’re not in the bustling city centre at all!

The Old Duke

The final King Street spot on our guide, The Old Duke offers much of the same fantastic features as it’s neighbours when it comes to finding a pub to watch the Balloon Fiesta from, with the added benefit of incredible live jazz music every night of the week to soundtrack your evening.

The Volley

The Famous Royal Navy Volunteer, or The Volley to its friends, has quite possibly one of the best kept secrets in Bristol with its little roof terrace. An absolute sun-trap that generally has a relaxed vibe, you almost forget you’re on King Street when you’re up there!

Zero Degrees

It might not be the largest of terraces, but Zero Degrees on Colston Street is expertly angled to make the most of the summer sun. As it wraps around the building you’re also guaranteed balloon sightings throughout the Balloon Fiesta!