Colourful hot air balloons floated above crowds at the 14th annual International Hot Air Balloon Festival in Leon, Guanajuato, in central Mexico on 15 November) The four-day event features hot air balloon rides, musical performances, expositions and other activities for families.

According to its website, the celebration has attracted more than two million visitors since its beginnings in 2002, when 27 balloons were flown. This year, revellers will see 200 balloons flying in the skies over Leon Metropolitan Park, located about 250 miles from the capital, Mexico City.

"The festival has become a true icon of Mexico. It's an ambassador to the world; it's an event that brings a message of peace and shows what Mexico is made of," said the festival's director, Sandra Slim.

Some balloons carried advertisements or were designed to look like characters from popular shows and films, including one shaped like the head of Darth Vader from the Star Wars movies.

"My favourite was the one my son Leonardo liked, which was SpongeBob. I thought it was amazing, and to see his smile and his happiness, it made the whole trip worthwhile," said visitor Leonardo Limon.

The first hot air balloon flight in Mexico took off from Guanajuato and ended in Rio Verde in 1842.