Spectacular footage of Canowindra’s Cabonne Country Balloon Glow was streamed live into China as the annual hot air ballooning festival soared to new heights on the weekend.
A contingent of reporters and production staff from China’s Xinhua News Agency beamed Saturday night’s balloon glow, night markets and musical entertainment to a potential audience of more than two million people in China and Australia.
The crew from the news agency’s Sydney bureau were broadcasting as part of a record crowd at the Canowindra International Challenge’s signature event.
Cabonne mayor Kevin Beatty said the festival’s status continues to grow on the ballooning calendar, which is helping to put Canowindra on the tourism map, not only in Australia but overseas.
“This live coverage into China has taken that international exposure to a new level,” Cr Beatty said.
“China is a very lucrative but extremely competitive market, so this interest from the Xinhua News Agency should have tremendous benefits for Canowindra and Cabonne.”
Within 24 hours of the broadcast, the balloon glow had been viewed by 250,000 people on the agency’s Australian social media platforms.
Some of the world’s elite hot air balloon pilots have been participating at Canowindra, with balloonists from the USA, France, England and New Zealand competing against Australia’s best.
The rapidly increasing popularity of the Canowindra Challenge prompted organisers to move the balloon glow from the Canowindra Sports Ground, where it has been held in recent years, to Canowindra Showground to cater for the growing number of spectators.
The decision was vindicated as thousands poured through the gates to witness the entertainment.
The crowd was bolstered by hundreds of visitors in motorhomes, campervans and tents who booked out the 250 camping sites at the showground.