The Hot Air Balloon Festival in Clark, Pampanga is an annual festival that started way back in 1994. This awesome event left us with a colorful experience that made me feel like a kid again. A kid fascinated by balloons—only bigger this time! I’m sure most of us have wished to be like a kid again at one time and this event will somehow let you experience that.
Visiting The Hot Air Balloon Festival
Since we’re coming from Metro Manila, we left as early as 3:30 AM because the travel time might take us two hours or more. According to the Hot Air Balloon Festival’s website, they light up the balloons as early as 5:30 in the morning. Why that early? My wife explained that the reason is the balloon’s sensitivity to heat; the balloons can’t afford to get exposed to the sun for a long time as it might cause them to burst.
It’s a photographer’s haven; most of the visitors brought the biggest camera they can grab. The good news is that this festival is not about the balloons alone, they have plenty of other airshows prepared which the photographers can feast on. We’ll talk about those other airshows in the second and third parts of this three-part blog series.
Finally, we’ve reached the area where the balloons are. It was still a bit dark when we got there which was an ideal time to warm things up. Good thing we’ve secured a space near the rails where we can take good pictures of the balloons. There’s really a huge difference when you see those balloons in person compared to just looking at their pictures. They looked bigger than I expected.
While the balloons were still being prepared, the event started with a flag ceremony. The flag was raised using a paraglide. You might wonder why there are some visitors inside the rail where the balloons are while most of us are outside the rail. Those people are the ones who paid a whopping P8,000.00 per person to ride the balloons. The rest were the event crews and the people in charge of the balloons.
Hot Air Ballons Take-Off
One by one the balloons started to fly. Their movements were like bubbles gently flowing with the breeze. Watching these floating giants blend their bright colors in the air was an amazing sight to see. I never expected this wonderful part of the festival to end very quickly because after just a few minutes—all of the balloons were gone! (Except for the delayed and defective ones of course).
Most Beautiful Hot Air Balloons
All of the hot air balloons looked great, but among the many wonderful balloons, there were some that grabbed everyone’s attention.
Here is my list of the hottest among the hot:
6. Pink Elephant. You can see that it’s burning hot in the picture which makes it a perfect candidate. Now, I picked this one not just because of its creative and cute Dumbo-like concept, I picked it because it’s in the hot seat. What do I mean by that? Everyone who attended this event knows that this balloon is the most humble of them all because it kept its feet on the ground. This balloon had a technical problem and never got the chance to fly.
5. Humpty Dumpty. What makes this balloon hot? This guy is falling the wrong way, how about that? Who wouldn’t recognize this adorable character? Originated in 1797, people have been singing about him even before our great grandfathers were born. He just recently starred as Puss’ frenemy in the movie Puss in Boots.
4. Bouquet of Flowers. Now, this balloon is hot in a romantic way. It looked like a hydra at first when it was partially inflated but the moment it was fully inflated, it caught the attention of every woman in the field, especially the single ones.
3. Ambulance. This balloon was so hot for trouble the moment it left the ground. As you can see in the picture, it almost got hit by the paraglider. It also went very close to the poor pink elephant and almost hit it. Most of the people in the field screamed when they thought the balloons will clash.
2. Spaceship. This is simply the biggest balloon of them all. We were lucky to see it because according to the program’s host, that day is the only time this balloon was brought out. We can see in the picture how big it is compared to the balloon nearby.
1. Sun. What else could be hotter than the sun!? Enough said.
Tip for next year’s event:
We were having second thoughts if we should buy the ticket ahead of time at R.O.X. in Bonifacio High Street, Taguig City which costs P300.00 per person instead of the regular price of P250.00 at Clark, Pampanga. Lining up to buy the tickets during the event might be a big hassle. We still decided to buy the tickets at the Balloon Festival directly only to realize that getting the ticket was easy because it was provided at the entrance and not at a separate ticket booth. Since there were four of us, we saved P200.00.
P.S. If you’re really serious about saving some money and you’re after the hot air balloons only, don’t buy the ticket and just hang out anywhere near the entrance. We saw the balloons passing that way of going to the next airport. I’m sure that other airshows are somehow visible there as well. It would be an advantage if you have a camera with a very high optical zoom if you plan to do that. If you’re coming from provinces like Bulacan and Tarlac you might do away with this kind of setup. But if you came from a faraway place like us who spent P1,500.00 for the gas alone, make the most out of it and buy the ticket.
The Hot Air Balloon Festival show was followed by the death-defying performance of the Breitling Jet Team