LEON, Mexico – The 10th International Balloon Festival, the largest such event in Latin America and one of the largest hot-air ballooning events in the world, started this weekend in Leon, a city in Mexico’s Guanajuato state.
The festival, which features 200 pilots from 14 countries, is expected to draw about 300,000 visitors, including 162,000 foreigners, during its four-day run.
The International Balloon Festival is an example of the efforts being made by the federal government to promote events and attractions in Mexico, Tourism Secretary Gloria Guevara Manso said.
More than 2 million people have attended the festival since it started 10 years ago, Guanajuato Gov. Juan Manuel Oliva Ramirez said.
One of the festival’s draws this year is 9-year-old Bobby Bradley, the world’s youngest balloon pilot.
Bradley is from Albuquerque, New Mexico, a city known for hosting the world’s largest balloon festival.
“I’m really excited,” Bradley said moments before taking off in his ultra-light balloon on Saturday.
The boy hopes to earn his pilot’s license at 16, the minimum age for flying a conventional balloon under international regulations.
The 200 balloons participating in the festival took off for their first flight at 7:00 a.m. Saturday, filling the sky with a variety of shapes and different colors.