since 1986

The history of the Frisian Balloon festival

We are now getting ready for the 37th edition of the Frisian Balloon Festival. But how did the Balloon Festival come about and how did the festival grow into the Netherlands' largest balloon event?


It all starts in 1984, and a remarkable couple of Jousters, Vriendenclub de Vlecke, organize all kinds of activities in the village to draw attention to their radio station. The actions are fun: from Easter egg hunting in the park to the NK Klunen in the middle of the summer.

Solex racing

Another action was the Solex Racing World Cup. In 1984, the winner of that World Cup was offered a balloon ride. In addition to the winner and the mayor, two members of the club of friends also joined pilot Henk Brink. After landing, the company had a drink in a bar in Bantega. At one point, Brink asked if organizing a “Balloon Fiesta” was not something for the club of friends. He didn't have to ask that twice!

Friese Ballonfeesten history

very first edition

The time had come in 1986. From July 9 to 12, the very first edition of the Frisian Balloon Parties took place. Even then, the festival was held at the Nutsbaan in Joure, the site that serves as an ice rink in the winter.

The Friends Club had counted on 10 balloons for that first edition, but eventually 50 arrived. The participants came from all over Europe: from England to Hungary and from Spain to Denmark. The audience was thrilled and the Friends Club also became infected with the “balloon virus”.

Friese Ballonfeesten history
Friese Ballonfeesten history

A year later, no less than 100 balloons participated in the Balloon Parties. However, the weather was really bad. Only a few balloons took to the skies during that second edition. The event site was completely flooded, but thanks to the local community, the festival did not go down financially.

Special Shapes

That was a good thing, because the Frisian Balloon Parties quickly grew into the Netherlands' largest balloon event. Although the number of balloons allowed to participate was reduced by the National Aviation Service, the spectacle only increased. Year in and year out, the organization has created some impressive Special Shapes, such as a huge cow, Walt Disney Castle and a life-size Santa Claus.

Joure was nicknamed “Balloon City”. Due to the Frisian Balloon Parties, more and more Jousters became enthusiastic about ballooning. Many decided to get a balloonist's license. This is how Joure grew into the place where relatively the most balloonists in the country live.

Friese Ballonfeesten history
Friese Ballonfeesten history

Frisian Balloon Festivals Foundation

After ten years, Vriendenclub de Vlecke handed over the organization to the Friese Ballonfeesten Foundation. That Foundation is still responsible for the organization to this day. The festival has now become an integral part of the national event calendars. The event also had a good name among balloonists. Pilots from home and abroad were only too happy to come to Joure.

In 2010, the Frisian Balloon Parties celebrated its 25th anniversary. To celebrate that anniversary, we went big. The organization received permission to launch 125 balloons into the air. On July 28, 2010, the time had come: a total of 127 balloons took off from 18 fields in and around Joure. With this, Joure held the Dutch record.

A summer without Frisian Balloon Parties was unthinkable for years. Nevertheless, it became a reality in 2020. While the organization was already busy preparing for the 35th edition, the coronavirus broke out. There was a line through all events, including the Frisian Balloon Parties.
A year later, the situation had not improved enough, but in 2022, 'gie it weroan' and celebrated the 35th anniversary.

We are now getting ready for the 37th edition. It will be held from 24 to 28 July 2024. Are you coming too?