6 best hot air balloon rides 2021 | The Sun UK

FEW experiences are more magical than a trip hundreds of feet skywards in an oversized balloon.

The best hot air balloon rides will see you enjoy views of the UK’s most beautiful locales, with a glass of Champagne in hand. What’s not to like?

Credit: PA:Press Association

If you’ve never been on a hot air balloon before, you’ve probably got a lot of questions. Here’s what you need to know.

How much is a hot air balloon ride?

Hot air balloon rides can vary in price depending on which company you use, what time of the day and what day of the week you travel and what’s included in the experience.

In the UK, they typically start from £124 but can go up to a couple of hundred pounds for packages.

How long is a hot air balloon ride?

The length of the hot air balloon ride will vary from company to company but typically you’re in the air for around 60 minutes. It can however vary depending on the weather.

The whole experience can last for upwards of four hours, including safety briefing and time to take photos.

Best hot air balloon rides

We’ve rounded up the best hot air balloon rides below with availability around the UK. You have to buy a voucher, and then book a ride at a time and location that suits you.

1. Virgin Balloon Flights

  • Weekday morning flight, £124pp from Virgin Balloon Flights – buy here

Virgin Balloon Flights offer some of the best value balloon rides and they have launch sites from over 100 places around the UK.

Their baskets are bigger – accommodating 12 to 16 passengers split between different pods.

On the morning flights, you’ll enjoy a three to four hour experience with an hour in the air plus a glass of prosecco when you land.

The vouchers are currently valid for 18 months instead of the usual 12.

2. Virgin Experience Days

  • Any day flight for two, £350 from Virgin Experience Days – buy here

If you don’t want to take a day off work just for the hot air balloon experience, Virgin Experience Days also offers an any day flight for two package.

You’re free to pick any morning or evening flight from Monday to Sunday, including Bank Holidays, to suit you. The ride will be shared with other people who have booked the same date.

The experience is provided by Virgin Balloon Flights so it’s also available in over 100 locations around the country and you get a glass of prosecco to finish the ride.

The voucher is valid for 12 months for this one.

3. Buy A Gift

  • Sunrise hot air balloon ride for two, £278 from Buy A Gift – buy here

Buy A Gift’s sunrise hot air balloon package has 28 launch points around the UK and you will be joining a small group for the experience.

The whole thing lasts for three to four hours with an hour in the air.

Some locations also offer a glass of champagne to finish, or an extra 10 to 15 minutes in the air.

The vouchers are currently valid for 20 months.

4. Red Letter Days

  • Hot air balloon ride for two, £344 from Red Letter Days – buy here

This hot air balloon experience for two from Red Letter Days is available in locations around the country at some of the UK's most beautiful locales.

The entire experience is around three and half hours long, with an hour in the air – takeoff is planned to coincide with sunset or sunrise, depending on the weather.

You’ll be joining a small group of others for the ride, then to finish the experience, you’ll enjoy a glass of champagne.

The vouchers are currently valid for 20 months.

5. Experience Days

  • Hot air balloon experience for two, £344 from Experience Days – buy here

Experience Days offers hot air balloons experiences for two around the UK.

As the rides are hosted through different providers, the availability and timings vary. Some will include a glass of bubbly at the end and some will offer extra time in the air for example.

You should allow three to four hours for the experience, plus an hour in the air.

The vouchers are currently valid for 18 months.

6. Into The Blue

  • Seven day anytime flights, £172pp from Into The Blue – buy here

Into The Blue have hot air balloon experiences around the UK and this package allows you to book a morning or evening flight on any day of the week.

The experience will be shared between eight to 16 people.

You get to spend about an hour in the air – some locations will also offer a glass of champagne to toast your return.

The vouchers are currently valid for 20 months.

What to wear for hot air balloon rides

Wrap up warm! The hot air balloon season runs from March to October in the UK and most rides are either morning or evening, which means it can get cold, especially up in the air.

Make sure you have warm, comfortable clothes that are suitable for the outdoors, even if it rains or gets muddy.

You may also want to bring a hat as well, but make sure it’s not one that will be easily blown away.

As for shoes, anything flat, sturdy and comfortable is good, like trainers you don’t mind getting muddy.

How many people can ride in a hot air balloon?

The number of people on a commercial hot air balloon ride will depend on the size of the balloon and the size of the baskets, as well as of course how many people book the experience.

On the smaller end it can be six to eight people, but it can also be as many as 20.

Who invented the hot air balloon?

The hot air balloon was invented in 1783 by two brothers, Joseph-Michel and Jacques-Étienne Montgolfier from Annonay in France.

Their first version, which they demonstrated in public in June that year, was made using cloth and paper, with heat coming from a straw fire to lift the balloon. It, like several versions that came after it, was unmanned.

But in just a few months, they created a version that was big and strong enough to carry people.

Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier and François Laurent, marquis d’Arlandes, then became the first people to go on a manned hot air balloon in the November of that year.

Want to try a driving experience day instead? We've rounded up the top gift packages you can buy.

Enjoyed our round-up of the best hot air balloon rides? Adrenaline junkies can also check out our roundup of F1 experience days.

And if you want to take the action off-road, check out these rally experience days.

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