Yoda and Angry Birds to make special appearance in Canberra skies
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Yoda and Angry Birds to make special appearance in Canberra skies

Yoda and Angry Birds have been announced as the two airborne behemoths this year at what has become one of the longest running festivals of its kind in the world.

Canberra is once again preparing for the annual Balloon Spectacular, in which around 30 hot air balloons are set to take to the skies above the territory for nine mornings beginning on March 7.

This year marks the 29th anniversary of the spectacular, which sees balloons and their pilots from all around the world take off from the lawns of Old Parliament House.

Veteran balloon pilot Ewan Roberts described the pre-dawn phenomenon as "like great big peaches coming to life in the dark".

It's an apt description to describe the first moments of the annual event that sees enormous shapes float above the city at sunrise and make their way across the parliamentary triangle from about 6.30am.

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Mr Roberts says that after a career that has taken him to Europe, Japan and the Middle East, Canberra remains a unique place to spend the early hours of the day adrift above the city.

"The best part about it is you're part of the landscape," he said. "If you fly over a bakery, you can smell the bakery."

Mr Roberts has been flying in Canberra for 22 years, and still finds something new each time he lifts off.

"There was a low flight over Civic once, and some of the patrons from the nightclubs were coming out shaking their heads, saying 'We've had a big night, this can't be true'," he said.

"No two flights are ever the same. We always start and finish in different places."

An omission at this year's spectacular, in the shape of an airborne whale, might however leave some Canberrans disappointed.

But while the Skywhale won't make an appearance, there'll be plenty of other sights to make the spectacular memorable.

Mr Roberts can recount a particularly special morning at last year's event after a night of rain.

"When we flew over the lake near the Hyatt, we could see a whole lot of balloons in front of us flying through a complete circular rainbow."

"I had never seen anything like that before."

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