Hot air + Canberra = a balloon spectacular

The Canberra Balloon Spectacular is the longest-standing ballooning event in Australia - and it lived up to its name on Monday.

The festival, which was launched over 30 years ago, features more than 30 balloons this year,and will take over the Canberra skyline until Sunday, March 17.

Ballooning veteran John Wallington has been involved since day one.

"People can expect to see a mass of colour and activity - burners are turned on, there's lots of flames, and very brightly coloured balloons. The public can get very close to them and it's a great atmosphere," he said.

The biggest and best, according to organisers, will be "Beagle Maximus" - a shaped balloon from the US, which has been dubbed "the largest dog in the world" by its owner.

The balloon is more than 36 metres long and 27 metres tall. The fabric for it alone weighs more than 300 kilograms. Other shaped balloons at the event will be "RAAF Helmet" and "Nudie".