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Bristol International Balloon Fiesta: Darth Vader, a big bear and a panther float over the city

Over 130 hot air balloons from around the world - including Darth Vader, a big bear and koala - are on show at Europe's largest ballooning event in Bristol.
The Bristol International Balloon Fiesta - the biggest ballooning event in Europe - has now got under way. More than 130 hot air balloons from across the world are expected to take part across the four days. On Thursday, over 50 balloons from lots of different countries, including Japan and Taiwan, took to the sky for a mass launch.
hot-air-balloons-above-bristol.Ben Birchall/Getty Images
It's not every day that you see Darth Vader floating above you! But you would have done if went along to the launch on Thursday. The Star Wars villain was made into a balloon following a crowd-funding campaign.
darth-vader-hot-air-balloon.Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images
Usually the mass launch happens on the Friday of the event, which is in its 41st year. But it was brought forward because strong winds were forecast for the following day. Due to weather warnings on Friday, unfortunately the mass launch needed to be cancelled.
panther-hot-air-balloon.Ben Birchall/PA Wire
Crowds still got a great look at the balloons on Thursday, though. As with every year, the balloons came in all shapes and sizes, as you can see with this creatively designed bear balloon, which looks like it was waving to the admiring crowds below.
bear-hot-air-balloon.Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images
While thousands of people will be looking forward to seeing all sorts of balloons, the highlights of the festival for most people are the Nightglows and Firework Finales, when collections of balloons are tied together and light up the night-time sky, accompanied by music. We can hardly wait to see what this year's finales will look like!
koala-hot-air-balloon.Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images
Some of the balloons are more traditional shapes, like the one in this picture, but with all of the different colours, it will certainly be a sight to behold, with hundreds of thousands of people expected to go along to the event to enjoy it.
city-skyline-on-hot-air-balloon.Ben Birchall/PA Wire
This year, the annual spectacle is running until the end of Sunday 11 August.
Lots-of-hot-air-balloons-above-Bristol.Ben Birchall/PA Wire