Balloons set to rise at Chatsworth Country Fair as TV star Julia Bradbury takes president's role

The spectacular sight of the biggest-ever meeting of hot air balloons gliding majestically across the parkland will greet visitors to this weekend’s Chatsworth Country Fair (August 30-September 1).

Billed as one of the best meets in Britain, the organisers of the lift have more than 65 pilots registered to take part with dawn and dusk flights scheduled for all three days, weather permitting.

Eye-catching special animal shapes will be among the colourful balloons taking to the skies with pilots coming from all over the UK for the rare opportunity to fly over Chatsworth, a no-go zone for the rest of the year.

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The skills of the pilots are put to the test with trophies for those who can manage to throw bread buns into a picnic basket on the ground during their flight, plus the chance for a quick ‘splash and dash’ in the river Derwent.

Organiser Rachel Percival, one half of the father and daughter team from the East Midlands Balloon Group, said: “It’s such a beautiful setting that so many pilots are keen to come and experience flying at Chatsworth.

“We throw in the competitions for a bit of extra fun but it is a real test of skill. If they touch the ground, they’re disqualified and they need to take into account wind speed and direction.

“For visitors, it really is a fantastic sight to see from miles around when they are arriving and again at dusk.

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“Generally the pilots like to have pootle around for a couple of hours and then will come down and land all over the fair site, from the main arena to the car parks, so get here early to catch the action.”

Chatsworth Country Fair also welcome Julia Bradbury as this year’s president. Outside her life on television and following her dedication to environmental causes and caring for the great outdoors, Julia Bradbury co-founded The Outdoor Guide (TOG) with her sister Gina.

The online resource that brings all outdoor-related information into one digital space, from where to walk and visit in the nearby area, to the best pubs for a locally-brewed pint, to the best places to stay in the countryside as a wheelchair user.

Julia said: ““I'm really looking forward to heading back to this part of the UK - Derbyshire is so close to my heart; having spent my childhood here walking with my Dad in the beautiful Peak District, this is where my infatuation with our countryside all began.”

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Other highlights announced include the Ukrainian Cossacks, motorcycle display team the Bolddog Lings and the Poppy Parachute Team.

The Stoves Cookery Theatre has a line-up of top chefs led by Mary Berry on Friday, James Martin on Saturday and The Hairy Bikers on Sunday.

For more information and to book tickets, visit