Philippine Hot Air Balloon Fiesta | Clark, Pampanga
It’s the time of the year once again when the skies of Clark, Pampanga become an infinite canvass of colorful gigantic balloons. But this year’s Philippine Hot Air Balloon Fiesta could be the last time for these balloons to fly over the airspace of Clark Field after 20 years.
In a report made by ABS-CBN, the end of its days is brought about by the government’s full efforts to maximize the use of Clark International Airport where the event shares the airspace of CIA. Aside from the usual commercial flights that it serves, Pampanga’s airport is also used for diverted flights that in the recent year quite had an overwhelming occurrence.
21st Philippine Hot Air Balloon Fiesta, a weekend of everything that flies!
Flying for 2 decades now, the Philippine Hot Air Balloon Fiesta is the longest-running sports aviation show in Asia. This year’s celebration soars on February 9-12 at the Omni Aviation Complex in Clark Field, Pampanga.
This air show brings some of the world’s best aviators in a spectacle of flights from gondola-tugging hot air balloons to aerobatic exhibitions. If you love the thrill of paragliding, skydiving & riding on Cessna planes, then this one’s for you.
I attended last year’s Philippine Hot Air Balloon Fiesta with some friends, my second time from 2012. It was fun watching the balloons took off one by one until they filled the daybreak sky with colors & cutesy shapes.
We were so envious of those who got into the gondolas because we really wanted to experience flying on hot air balloons. But we couldn’t honestly afford the $350 ticket. So, we just settled with kite flying & experiencing the various on-ground exhibits like real combat planes & tanks.
This year promises the same exciting marvels like paragliding & skydiving, the things that have always been part of my bucketlist. If you too like these kinds of extreme adventures, you can buy a ticket & tick those off on your list.
While the airshow is absolutely fantastic, the event is also plagued with logistical nightmare in handling the audience’s queue. I wonder why it’s never resolved even after 20 years of running it.
The show begins at 7AM. It is at this time when the balloons start to fly. But even before the gates open at 5AM, the queue is already kilometric. To make matters worst, guide lanes are not anymore followed because of the lack of marshalls in the area.
While all guides may advise you to stay in nearby hotels at least a night before the event, there will always be more people ahead of you in the venue.
We arrived in the area at around 2:30AM & we were surprised to find a mass of 3 lines snaking towards the entrance already. And yes, as soon as the gates opened the mob rushed, all wanting to get ahead of everyone to see the crew prepping the balloons.
If you want to avoid the crowd, buy the VIP Pass at P6,000. Otherwise, ordinary tickets sell at P350 but you have to get your ass in the venue with the croaking toads at 12midnight.
Dubbed as the Weekend of Everything that Flies, the Philippine Hot Air Balloon Fiesta is a fun event best shared with friends & families. As it could be the last on this site, nothing is a better time to come than now.