More than 100 hot air balloons took to the skies over Bristol as dawn broke on Friday 11 August for the start of the 39th International Balloon Fiesta. The festival is Europe's largest annual meeting of hot air balloons, and it attracts pilots from all over the world.

First held in 1979, the fiesta often has crowds of over 100,000 people on each of the four days of the festival. Weather permitting, mass ascents are held twice a day – one at 6am and another at 6pm. A "night glow" was held on the opening night at Ashton Court, where the balloons were lined up and illuminated. The festival runs until Sunday with another night glow and fireworks display planned for Saturday night.

Photographers Matt Cardy and Hannah McKay captured the excitement of the festival and some pretty spectacular aerial views of Bristol.

Bristol Balloon Fiesta 2017
Balloons are illuminated by their burners during the 'Night Glow' displayHannah McKay/Reuters
Bristol Balloon Fiesta 2017
Hot air balloons are inflated and take to the skies as they participate in the mass ascent at sunriseMatt Cardy/Getty Images
Bristol Balloon Fiesta 2017
Matt Cardy/Getty Images
Bristol Balloon Fiesta 2017
Matt Cardy/Getty Images
Bristol Balloon Fiesta 2017
Painted houses in terraced streets are seen from the airMatt Cardy/Getty Images
Bristol Balloon Fiesta 2017
Hot air balloons take to the skies over the city of BristolMatt Cardy/Getty Images
Bristol balloon Fiesta 2017
Passengers in a hot air balloon fly over Bristol city centreHannah McKay/Reuters
Bristol Balloon Fiesta 2017
Hannah McKay/Reuters
Bristol Balloon Fiesta 2017
A balloon flies over Clifton Suspension Bridge in BristolHannah McKay/Reuters
Bristol Balloon Fiesta 2017
A cemetery is seen from a hot air balloonMatt Cardy/Getty Images
Bristol Balloon Fiesta 2017
Allotment gardens are seen from the airMatt Cardy/Getty Images
Bristol Balloon Fiesta 2017
High rise tower blocks are seen from the airMatt Cardy/Getty Images
Bristol Balloon Fiesta 2017
Hannah McKay/Reuters
Bristol Balloon Fiesta 2017
A hot air balloon is seen in front of the moonMatt Cardy/Getty Images
Bristol Balloon Fiesta 2017
Matt Cardy/Getty Images
Bristol Balloon Fiesta 2017
Matt Cardy/Getty Images
Bristol Balloon Fiesta 2017
A balloonist checks inside a balloon as it is inflatedHannah McKay/Reuters
Bristol Balloon Fiesta 2017
Hannah McKay/Reuters