A Cheshire farmer has been left red faced after he sparked a UFO alert by releasing 400 helium-filled balloons above his farm.

Johnny Hewitt, of Red House Farm, Dunham Massey, Altrincham, tethered the multi-coloured balloons, containing LEDs, in a net and floated them 200ft in the air over his barn.

While the balloons were supposed to guide guests to a party on Mr Hewitt’s farm, the glowing orb attracted the attention of UFO enthusiasts across the country.

Alien sightings were reported on local radio and television stations, while one expert told a local paper that it was probably a meteor shower 22,000ft into space.

Mr Hewitt realised his balloons were to blame for the sighting after reading reports about aliens.

“Over the next couple of days I started to hear about UFO sightings over Altrincham and I realised it wasn’t UFOs people were seeing – it was my balloons,” Mr Hewitt told the Telegraph.

“I had some friends coming from around the country on Saturday night. It had been a number of years since I’d seen them all and none of them had been to my farm. So I thought I’ll put something up in the sky so they knew that they would know when they were getting close where we were,” he said.

“It was quite a spectacle. As soon as we put it up people were stopping as they drove by. People were parking up and taking photos with their mobile phones.

“Because of all the fuss it was getting we took it down once everyone had arrived and put it in a barn. Thinking about it now I suppose that made it more spooky – one minute it was there the next it wasn’t.”