Your chance to walk inside a hot air balloon

Early this morning an art-covered hot air balloon soared into the sky over Thamesmead and will do so for several evenings this week – and before it takes off people will be able to stroll inside the hot air balloon.

The morning flight was a show-stopping demonstration for the 25-meter-tall hot air balloon, which was specially designed for the event, as it is covered in artwork designed by local people. Artists Neil Musson and Jono Retallick (musson+retallick), who showed up in steampunk outfits, have spent the past two years working with the local community to capture their personal memories of life in the area and create art works. ‘art.

These were then enlarged and printed on balloon fabric, to float above Thamesmead for several evenings.

On days when the balloon is to fly, you can also show up in the late afternoon and walk inside the balloon, as it is inflated on the ground with a large fan, so with your shoes off you can walk around inside a giant hot air balloon before it receives the blasts of hot air that will lift it skyward.

Lateral inflation of the balloon will take place in the afternoon of the day of the flight. The balloon will fly over Thamesmead for five evenings – weather permitting – from 6.30pm to 9pm.

If you are on a special trip – check here before departing in case wind or weather causes the evening flight to be cancelled.

All locations are a short walk or bus ride from Abbey Wood station, with the exception of Gallions Reach, which is easiest to reach via a 20 minute walk along the river from Abbey Wood station. Woolwich on the Elizabeth line. A word of advice – maybe try to arrive just before dusk as you can see the art lit by the setting sun, but also as it’s a bit darker, lit from within by the libers of the air burners hot.

The event is the inaugural Thamesmead Open, an art competition run by Peabody, who are currently redeveloping the Thamesmead estate.


Unroll the ball

Inflated side – and people can walk inside

Once everyone is out, it’s time to heat up


And at altitude – half inflated at the time