The Irish Meet

Irish Hot Air Ballooning Championships

The Irish Hot Air Ballooning Championship is usually referred to as 'The Irish Meet'. It is the longest running National ballooning event in the world. The first event was held in 1971 at Newcastle House in Ballymahon, Co Longford and was attended by a handful of balloons. The event now attracts up 40 balloons and has been held in Boyle, Co. Roscommon; Kilkenny; Waterford; Athlone; Trim, Co. Meath; Kells, Co. Meath; Killenkere, Co. Cavan and Drumshambo, Co. Leitrim.

Balloonists from UK, USA, France, Holland, Belgium, Chile and Ireland are regular attendees to the event which is an invitation only event. The event, the biggest of its kind in Ireland, is a huge spectacle with these huge ancient aircraft flying totally dependent on the wind for direction.

Following a hugely successful “meet” last year the international balloonists will, for the 2nd time, fly over the Galway countryside kindly supported by Galway County Council and our Industry sponsor. The base HQ for the event will be Loughrea Spa Hotel and flights will take place in the vicinity of the town throughout the week, weather permitting.

The event takes place from 24th to 29th of September inclusive.

In addition to the launches, the balloonists hope to provide another spectacular Night Glow where they inflate at night to the sound of music in the dark

Some of the balloon teams are planning to visit some of the local schools to demonstrate the balloons to the pupils.

The balloons flights will take place twice each day, weather permitting, at approximately 7.30am to 8.00 am in the morning and again at around 6pm in the evening. The status and location of these flights will be updated on the official Championships website throughout the event.

Information on each day's flights will be available on the Championships Hotline prior to each scheduled flight. Details of whether the flights are going ahead and their location will be announced on this number - 087 9300700.

The public are actively encouraged to come out and see the balloons as they launch. The balloons will make a spectacular display in the skies over Loughrea so bring your camera. (The attraction of so many balloons flying can be mesmerizing so we issue a note of caution to be mindful of traffic and road users while enjoying the spectacle!).

It is not possible to provide flights to the public during the week however it is a fun, social event for everyone’s enjoyment so get your cameras ready and record your favourite shots for the album. 

During the week, a number of light-hearted competitions will take place to challenge the skill of the participating pilots. Here is a sample of those that could take place:

Hare and Hounds

This involves a single balloon flying away first (the 'hare') and the remaining balloons follow the hare balloon, who will be doing their best to find winds to make the task more difficult for the chasing pack. The winner will be the balloon that either lands nearest, or drops their 'marker' nearest the landed hare balloon. 

Fly-in task

This will involve the nomination and placement of a target area. The balloon teams will then be sent off to find their own launch site locations a pre-specified distance (Usually 5 miles!) away from the target area. The pilots will then use their skill to fly towards the target area using the minimal steerage offered by winds at different heights. 

Long Distance Competition

Throughout the week, a competition will be run where a prize is awarded to the balloon team that manages to fly the furthest throughout the week's event. 

See to find out more information.

Those Pilots that are looking to pay for their entry fee into The Champs, you can do so via the following link -