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PHOTOS: B.C. woman’s balloon art wins Top Twister awards at Chicago event

How Kristal Yee has twisted her way to global acclaim
Surrey-based balloon artist Kristal Yee with her winning creations at the 2024 Twist & Shout convention in Chicago. (Contributed photo)

Champion balloon artist Kristal Yee has returned home to Surrey with awards from a big convention in Chicago.

She was Top Twister in two categories (Agility, Artistic) at the 2024 Twist & Shout event at the start of March, and placed in six different competitions at the balloon convention, which drew 223 delegates from around the world.

“This is the first year that they added Top Twister in the agility category, because normally it’s just the artistic category, and I managed to win both of them,” Yee told the Now-Leader.


Wearable balloon art created by Surrey resident Kristal Yee. (Contributed photo)
Kristal Yee’s Uninflated Artistic Sculpture balloon-art entry at the 2024 Twist & Shout convention in Chicago. (Contributed photo)

Since 2011 Yee has attended the Twist & Shout convention, where competition categories include balloon dress and costumes, stage performance and timed/agility showdowns.

A Fleetwood-area resident, Yee runs a face-painting and balloon-art business on, and posts her creations on

“I do a lot of birthday parties, and I’ve got a bunch of corporate things coming up, like companies doing family fun days and holiday events, things like that,” Yee explained. “I’ve got a golf course where I’m doing all of their brunches. During COVID I was doing a lot of balloon orders for people. Summer is always busy, and it’s getting busy in spring too. I’m never bored.”

Six years ago, in 2018, Yee told the Now-Leader about travelling the world with her air-filled creations. As a founding member of Canada’s Twisted Team, she earned awards at the World Balloon Convention in San Diego for a “Sorcerer’s Serenade” display, featuring likenesses of Mickey and Minnie Mouse. The fashion-focused Surreyite made Minnie’s dress and Mickey’s robe.

In 2017 in China, she helped make a balloon “zoo” that earned a Guinness World Records certificate as the largest such creation, 469,845 balloons in total.

CLICK HERE to watch video of Yee in 2018.

Years earlier, after graduating from Enver Creek Secondary, Yee was an aspiring actor and part-time swim coach.

“One day, I had no shows, and no coaching (jobs) either,” Yee recalled in 2018, “and an actor colleague of mine asked if I wanted a job working with kids. The event company he was working for was short-staffed that weekend, so I went and did my first terrible face-painting, and my first one-balloon dog, hoping the thing wasn’t going to pop.”

Yee quickly realized she could use more than one balloon to create something pretty magical.

“It didn’t have to be just a one-balloon dog or sword, you could make things with multiple balloons, and that just kind of opened up this world for me,” she said. “And once I got into the convention world, not so long after that, it was like coming home, to find people who were just as crazy about what you love, as much as you are. I’ve met some of my best friends through balloons.”

Tom Zillich

About the Author: Tom Zillich

I cover entertainment, sports and news for Surrey Now-Leader and Black Press Media
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