A NEW hot air balloon festival is set to take to the County Durham skies later this year.

Taking place over the late May bank holiday weekend, the balloons will be launched at dawn and dusk over Durham City.

The festival is being organised by Durham Business Improvement District (Bid) and is hoped will attract as many as 10,000 people to the city.

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Business engagement manager Adam Deathe said: “Balloons InDurham is set to be a landmark event for the city and wider county. Nowhere else in the North can people enjoy such a festival, so we’re asking people now to put a note in their diary and come along to be part of something that is set to be truly amazing."

The festival will start on Friday, May 26 with an early evening hot air balloon launch from East Durham College's Houghall Campus, off the A177 between Durham and Shincliffe.

Over the weekend, there will be further dusk launches, tethered flights and a "balloon glow", involving lights and music, which will take place on Saturday, May 27, between 9.30pm and 10.15pm.

Mr Deathe added: "Early risers are expected to be able to see a whole range of hot air balloons rise above the city each morning of the festival at dawn.

"Night owls can also enjoy a spectacular balloon glow. Imagine hot air balloons inflating and illuminating the night sky, all set to a rousing soundtrack and in time with music.”

Full details of the day-by-day event schedule will be released closer to the time.

Scott Hillary, from production company AH Events, said: "We’re praying to the Gods that we’re blessed with fine weather over the course of the festival weekend. As you can imagine, by the very nature of hot air balloons, we’re at the mercy of the elements.

"Even as much as 8mph winds can scupper plans and prevent a flight from taking off, so we’re building a degree of flexibility into the itinerary – if the Balloon Glow can’t happen on the Saturday evening, we’ll make every effort to make sure it happens the following night, weather permitting."

The festival will also coincide with the penultimate leg of The Tour Series, Britain's leading televised cycle race, which has taken place in Durham for the last seven years, and will be followed by a summer fetes event in the city centre.

Suzanne Duncan, principal and chief executive of East Durham College, said: “East Durham College’s Houghall Campus is delighted to host and support this landmark event.

“The college is acutely aware of the importance of the tourism industry to Durham City, and the wider region, and this event is a fantastic way to help attract visitors to our beautiful region. We are thrilled to have been approached to help host this event and wish Durham BID and all of the festival’s participants every success in this exciting event.”