It will be up up and away for guests at the 9th Annual Oyster Festival at Hardwick Hall Hotel in Sedgefield with hot air balloon rides up for grabs.

Lucky guests will get the chance to take to the air with the appearance of the celebrated Champagne Taittinger hot air balloon.

The balloon, which had its maiden flight in 2007, has since flown the length and breadth of the UK as well as appearing in the famous Château- d’Oex winter balloon festival in Switzerland.

Managing Director of Ramside Estates John Adamson said: “We’ve already got a fabulous entertainment line-up confirmed for the Oyster Festival but wanted to bring something new and exciting to the festival. We’re thrilled that sponsors Taittinger have agreed to bring the Champagne hot air balloon for the first time. Proceeds from donations for the flights will benefit our festival charity the Foundation of Light.”

Guests who take part in the tethered flights will be looked after by experienced pilot Pete Dalby, who has worked in the balloon industry for 26 years. Pete said: “The balloon ride is a unique way to bring something extra special to the event and I’m sure all the guests that get the opportunity to go up will thoroughly enjoy themselves as it’s such a unique experience. Hopefully, we’ll get a clear day so we can admire the views of the stunning County Durham countryside.”

Since the first event in 2004, the Oyster Festival has gained an excellent reputation as being one of the most distinctive corporate events on the north east social calendar as well as raising thousands of pounds for local charities.

This year’s entertainment includes top Irish comedian Tommy Tiernan followed by live music provided by Mike McGrother’s Rogues, The Happy Cats and Badness.

The festival takes place on Friday 21st September from 11.00am-6.00pm and packages are available at £140.00 per person. For further information please call 01740 620 253 or email dawn.coates@hardwickhallhotel.co.uk