16th Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta

by - 9:44 PM

Photo courtesy of my very good friend,
It was a weekend where basically everything flies.  Bound for Clark Freeport, Pampanga at the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) grounds, we shall witness an annual event featuring balloons from all over the world.  The event shall run from February 10-13, but due to work schedules, we opted for the weekend getaway...February 12-13.  Through the years, this has become a sort of convention for hot air balloons and the like including aerosports and other aviation-related activities.  Going there is hassle-free, just take the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) from Manila, make a right and exit at Angeles Exit.  

The ticket costs 150 pesos per person and per visit and these tickets are available at the gate entrance of the Hot Air Balloon Grounds.  As for me, I was able to purchase two tickets as we arrived 6PM, on time for the Hot Air Balloon Night Glow.  We were not able to catch the afternoon hot-air balloon fly-in which is scheduled to fly at about 5:30 to 6:00PM.  However, the night glow would already suffice for an experience.  The night glow lasts until 7PM.

If you want to experience both the flying of the balloons and its glow, you better be early.  Ample parking is available near the entrance gates.  Although there are free shuttles that will take you to the hot air balloon grounds, personally, I recommend you bring your personal car for convenience, but just bear with the limited space and numerous cars waiting to be parked.  There are road signs that will direct you to the parking lots and a parking fee is charged.

Upon entering the hot air balloon grounds, the following sites shall be expected. 
my first view of the hot air balloons

my favorite - the little pirate

watch out- we're coming back!

After the show, my friend Shakey and I, decided we're going back for the morning flight of the Hot Air Balloons.  Thus, after the drinking spree and night out with friends at Angeles City, Pampanga, we went back to Manila and eventually in a matter of seconds, was fetched by a good friend, Dr. Panis in Quezon City at around 4AM and travelled back to Clark, Pampanga.  This is how eager we were to see the hot air balloons fly in the morning. 

We arrived at the Hot Air Balloon Grounds at around 6AM and lined up for the long line of entrance.  Though, we were not able to see the hot air balloons fly and embark from the grounds, we were able to witness the morning flights from a glance as we patiently line up for the entrance.

the crowd
At the southeast side of the ballon fiesta site, foodbooths are available and are present near the show line.  There are also bazaars set up near the entrance gate, and also on the northwest part of the grounds, near the aircraft ramp.  The celebration is also in line with the centennial year of airplanes in the Philippine skies.

Most tourists stayed also at the hot air balloon grounds for an overnight stay, thus, tents were also set up in the area.  The weather was too hot then, so it's advisable to dress casually and comfortably.

While wandering, we had the privilege to get closer to the hot air balloons. Taking a ride on the hot air balloons is quite costly, thus, we did not try it.  It costs approximately 7,000 pesos for a ride of not more than 30 minutes, on a certain elevation from the grounds. (not too high)

See you next year!

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