Mexico balloon festival hype's more than hot air

23rd Oct 2013

Few of Mexico's great festivals and events can have more excuse for having an inflated opinion of itself than the León International Balloon Festival (IBF) in the state of Guanajuato.

Visitors on city breaks to León next month can enjoy one of the biggest jamborees of its kind.

The festival was founded in 2002, with a mere 27 hot air balloons.

Since then, interest has … ballooned.

Almost two million fans have gathered in total over its 11 years, including more than 375,000 in 2012, when it featured 200 hot air balloons and pilots from 15 countries.

Guanajuato and León received an income of more than 300 million pesos (£14.3 million) and a full hotel occupancy during last year's show.

This year's event from November 15-18 promises to be equally exciting.

It will again showcase 200 hot air balloons from around the world, but this time including 25 special shaped ones.

Visitors and their families can enjoy a packed programme full of music, colour and fun.

Guanajuato has one of Mexico's most interesting and rich tourist circuits with a whole host of cultural sites.

Attractions include San Miguel de Allende and Dolores Hidalgo, cities that hold architectural delights of unequalled beauty unfolding the country's history.

San Miguel scooped first spot in the Top 25 Cities in the World list in Condé Nast Traveler magazine's 26th annual Readers' Choice Awards recently.

It has all the amenities modern travellers expect from an international city with all the romantic, traditional ambience of a small town.

Painters and photographers are lured to sites such as La Parroquia, a striking Neo-gothic parish church, and El Mirador, a huge and amazing pre-Columbian Mayan settlement.

Guanajuato is renowned as Mexico's most important tourist destination and has many colonial jewels and much architectural beauty in addition to archaeological sites and centres of commerce and business.

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