Exclusive Cup History

2008

The Exclusive Cup was founded by Exclusive Ballooning and company director Andrew Holly.

The inaugural event was held at Sudeley Castle in 2008 with sixty balloons and was a huge success. The weather was perfect and allowed for all flights to proceed over the weekend.

Following a hugely successful first year, the event was actually relocated to the home town of Exclusive Ballooning HQ in South Gloucestershire and became an established competition and grass roots event.

Flying in the local Berkeley area in June of each year, the local community enjoyed seeing the skies filled with balloons for one weekend of the year.

2013

In 2013, Gloucestershire based engineering company Renishaw became the title sponsor of the event. Exclusive Ballooning operates the Renishaw hot air balloon which is often seeing flying locally and it was the perfect opportunity for Renishaw to be involved and see their balloon take centre stage.

Renishaw also kindly welcomed the participating teams to their New Mills head office, where the prize giving lunch and ceremony would then take place.

Having become an established annual event in the UK calendar, as the event for balloonists run by balloonists, the emphasis was always on relaxed and fun flying in a friendly environment.

2015

In 2015, Exclusive Ballooning began working with Longleat Safari Park in Wiltshire to launch their second special shape penguin balloon; Splash. It was outside of Longleat House that the now famous duo, Puddles and Splash, were seen together for the very first time.

With such a huge and positive reaction to seeing hot air balloons at Longleat, the conversations began about relocating The Exclusive Cup.

2016

In September 2016, the first Exclusive Cup Sky Safari took place at Longleat and was a huge success. Sixty balloons attended the event, all enjoying the unique opportunity to fly from the stunning grounds and over the Wiltshire countryside. The competition flights of the Exclusive Cup still took place every morning and then the evenings allow for fun flights. 2016 also saw the introduction of two night glows to the event. Expertly choreographed by Director Andrew Holly, this was a style of night glow that had not been seen in the UK before. With hot air balloons lining the mile long Lodge Drive, a spectacular performance was given by the pilots who were instructed down to the second of when to burn in time with the music.

The Sunday prize giving lunch and ceremony took place in the dedicated pilot marquee on site and the Exclusive Champion Andy Gregory was announced.

10,000 people were on site on the Saturday alone for this inaugural event, which quickly was announced as a now annual event at Longleat.

2017

Despite only being in its second year, 2017 saw a huge growth in the event and Exclusive Ballooning were thrilled to become the UK’s largest annual balloon event in the UK. A total of 119 hot air balloons launched in a single mass ascent which made the Exclusive Cup Sky Safari the largest event of its kind in the UK that year. A huge achievement for all involved and for such a young event.

#SkySafari also become a huge hit was seen throughout social media during the event.

Due to demand and popularity, there was also the addition of a third night glow, meaning you could see the unique and fully choreographed performance on Thursday, Friday and Saturday night.

Having already made an impact overseas from the 2016 inaugural event, this year Sky Safari also welcomed teams from across the world, with pilots attending from as far afield as Dubai and Alaska! Six balloon teams from the US travelled to the event for the first time and Exclusive Ballooning were honoured to welcome the 2017 World Champion Rhett Heartsill and US National Champion Johnny Petrehn.

The competition prize fund was increased and this year saw the introduction of a prize draw for all participants, with one lucky pilot wining the grand prize of a brand new car! In total, over £40,000 worth of prizes were given to pilots and teams at the Sunday Prize Giving, ranging from tablet computers, drones, iPads to a holiday in Spain. The Exclusive Cup competition winner was Bill Baker of Texas, USA who a Lindstrand Vortech burner worth over £6000 and the lucky winner of the Grand Prize Draw was British pilot Robin Waite who drove away from the event in a brand new Hyundai i10!

2018

With increased demand and popularity, 2018 was set to be even bigger and better and with over 160 balloons registered to take part. This year also saw the event celebrate its 10th anniversary.

On Saturday 15th September 2018, 169 different hot air balloons launched in the morning mass ascent, with a total number of 201 different balloons being on show during the Saturday alone, when you add in the ones that only tethered. The total number of different balloons flying or tethering throughout the whole event was confirmed at 210, which is truly incredible.

This now makes The Exclusive Cup Sky Safari 2018, the largest hot air balloon event the UK has ever seen and this achievement is all the more special, as this year was the events 10th Anniversary (2008-2018).

A total of 23 different special shapes were seen flying or tethering throughout the event and a total of 70 balloons across the three night glows.

Longleat once again welcomed pilots from across the world and nine balloon teams from the US travelled to the event. Exclusive Ballooning were honoured to also welcome ballooning legend and world record holder Dr Bill Bussey and twice world champion Johnny Petrehn.

Over £40,000 worth of prizes were given to pilots and teams at the Sunday Prize Giving, ranging from computers, drones, hooverboards, iPads to a holiday in Spain and the ultimate trip to Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta in 2019, as part of the 10th anniversary celebrations.

The competition winner was Rimas Kostiuskevicius from Lithuania who won a Lindstrand NOMAD basket worth over £9,000. The lucky winner of our Grand Prize Draw was British pilot Ken Lowry who drove away from the event in a brand new Hyundai i10!”

While 2018 saw the unforgettable and never before seen sight of one hundred and sixty nine balloons floating over the beautiful grounds of Longleat Estate and three stunning night glows, The Exclusive Cup has worked hard to remain true to its roots and ensure that the pilots and crew who attend have a fun, relaxed and enjoyable time. Exclusive Ballooning continue to welcome pilots from across the world and particularly welcome and encourage new and novice pilots to the event.

Plans are now already under way for 2019.