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The 21st Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Festival ❥ The Good and The Bad

I’m not gonna lie or beat around the bush. It’s not as colourful as I’ve expected. Honestly, there are a lot more “ugghs” than “yayyys” about this hot air balloon experience.

Sorry but I speak the truth and always express what I think or feel from the bottom of my heart. I’m pretty sure at least 50% of those hundreds of thousands of people nod their heads in agreement. Yes, there were about 20,000 (or probably more…I don’t know, as if I tried counting them) people who attended that show. It’s pretty dense!

Since we’re just talking about numbers, imagine the total price of the tickets they’ve sold this year. It’s PhP350 (US$ 7 to 7.50) per person! That price also applies to children who are at least 3 feet. Personally, I think it’s overpriced. But who knows, they invite participants (hot air balloon crew, pilots, skydivers, paragliders, etc.) from different parts of the world who compete and give a spectacular show. There must be some appearance fee or something.

I’ve made a plan to attend this year’s balloon fest some months ago. I was excited back then. I even hoped I could ride on one of the hot air balloons. It would be a great experience despite my slight fear of heights but ironically I do love flying. Then I was thinking maybe I could try the aerobatic flight ride instead. Oh yes, I’m definitely that adventurous. Guess what I did? None. Just took photos and videos among the crowd. That was the fun part haha.

Riding a hot air balloon costs US$350, while US$400 for a 30-minute aerobatic plane ride. It’s definitely expensive! Regardless, it would have been an amazing flying experience. I wish I had a free ride or someone sponsored me. If that happened, I might have a different opinion about all this. Let’s see if we can do that next year, with or without sponsors. Fingers crossed.

The festival show was open for the whole day, but I think they have the same list of activities. We got there around past 3 in the morning. The queue was already long but there’s no problem or delay entering the field.

Tip: Buy e-tickets as it’s much faster to enter and the line for e-ticket holders is shorter.

Although the crowd was thick, the weather was nice. I wish there were someone I could have cuddled with while waiting for the sun to rise. Believe it or not, there was one extra ticket. “Sayang”!

The show was scheduled to start at 5:30am, but “Filipino time” was applied, so I believe it was already 6. The waiting period was more than 2 hours, and we only enjoyed the show for a very short period of time – an hour maybe. We could have stayed a little longer since I wanted to see Sean Clarke does his trick with an aerobatic plane. But there were young kids with us and the sun was in full hotness. They were hungry, got bored already and asking me about my “Jollibee” promise (although I didn’t really promise them anything haha). And people started walking to and fro, dust released in the air…it was getting worse.

The worst part was when we tried leaving the area. Oh. My. Goodness. It took us an hour to reach the exit gate. That was not professionally organized. I felt sorry for the children who were dragged into this mess. Also sorry for me…actually funny because I was carrying a 10-kilo trolley bag, while everyone had backpacks.

If you’re curious as to why I brought luggage, I was on a week trip and the balloon festival show was my last destination. No need to stay in a hotel or leave it somewhere else. I had to go home right after anyway.

Okay, let me get into the best for last…

The skydivers and paragliders dancing in the sky were a little more entertaining to watch than the balloons being drifted away. Again, it would have been more fun if I was up in the air. Sigh.

I’m not sure how many hot air balloons were present. But I can count and remember only a few that make heads turn.

Curious as to what other activities were offered? Check out here.

Omni Aviation Complex
Clark, Pampanga, Philippines

Did you also attend this hot air balloon show in Clark, Pampanga? Have you witnessed other balloon festivals from other countries? Please, share your experiences in the comment section below.



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