Canowindra Challenge Inc. is a community based organisation that hosts an annual balloon competition and festival in the second week of the NSW April school holidays, to benefit Canowindra and the greater region.
Visitors to the festival can wake up each morning to the visual spectacle of a mass launch and flight of a fleet of colourful hot air balloons, or take a flight themselves.
The event highlight is the night balloon glow, fire and light spectacular with wine, food and craft markets. Various support events are held around the village during the week.
Canowindra Challenge is proud to be a Regional Flagship Event for Destination NSW.
Canowindra has a long association with the hot air ballooning playing host for many years to “Marti’s Balloon Fiesta”. This tradition ceased to operate in 2006, leaving a significant hole in the village’s annual event’s calendar and also in the hearts of many locals who took great pride in their unique event.
In 2010 local balloon operators Graham and Jan Kerr decided to take matters into their own hands and reinstate Canowindra’s claim as the “Ballooning Capital of Australia” by starting a new event called “The Canowindra Balloon Challenge”.
Following the success of this first event, Graham and Jan went back to the Canowindra community with a proposal to grow the event by setting up a community organisation to co-ordinate and ensure benefits flow to the communities of Canowindra and surrounding areas. Their gamble paid off and in 2011 Canowindra Challenge Incorporated (CCI) was formed.
CCI currently has a Board of 7 Directors and a membership base of 22 people.
Over the past 6 years the event has continued to grow and in 2011, 2013 and 2014 the Canowindra Balloon Challenge included the Australian National Balloon Championships sanctioned by the Australian Ballooning Federation.
In 2014 and 2015 the event was also granted the sanction for a Category 2 International Balloon Competition by the Federation Aeronautique Internationale (FAI), the world sports aviation governing body.
The Canowindra Balloon Challenge is held annually in the second week of the NSW April school holidays due to this time of year offering the most ideal weather conditions for flying hot air balloons. Historically this time of year provides calm wind currents, cool overnight temperatures and sunny days with a low chance of rain. It is a peak tourism period for Canowindra as there tends to be a movement of the caravan and motorhome market from south to north during this time of year - the annual migration to a warmer climate for the winter months.
NSW Tourism Awards - Silver 2013 and 2014
Inland Tourism Awards - Gold 2014
Regional Tourism Awards - Bronze 2016
Regional Achievement and Community Awards - Finalist 2012, 2013, 2014
21st to 29th April, 2018
20th to 28th April, 2019
18th to 26th April, 2020