It’s that time of the year again where colorful hot air balloons fill the air and the love for flying is clearly seen in the blue skies of Clarkfield, Pampanga! The 17th Philippine Hot Air Balloon Fiesta is here! From aviation enthusiasts, photographers, to families looking for a weekend of fun, everyone is excited and ready to soar high!
In its 17th year, the fiesta offers more fun than ever. Spearheaded by Captain Joy Roa, the event which will be on February 9 to February 12, is set to captivate the eyes and draw inspiration to young aviators and everyone who just dreams of flying. This four day event is jam packed with activities every member of the family can enjoy. From aerial exhibitions (sky diving, paragliding, aerobatics, ultralight flights, professional kite exhibitions) to flying on a hot air balloon, this fiesta is truly something that everyone can be a part of.
An entrance fee of 200php comes with a whole day entrance to the event and an opportunity to mingle with real pilots and see RC aircraft displays. The amount goes to the expenses of organizing the show and also for sending the less privileged high school graduates who dreams of having a career in aviation. Children 2 years old and below are free. Tickets are available at any SM Ticketnet outlets and at ROX outlets in Bonifacio Global City and Marquee Mall, Pampanga.
You can also log on to: www.ticketnet.com.ph for ticket reservations.
A number of the activities are also available to be tried, just line up at the Information Booth for reservation and to check the availability and schedule of the activities. And yes, you can have the chance to fly a hot air balloon! Just make sure to be early to register because it is in a first come, first serve basis. A fee of $200 per person is required for the balloon ride to cover the gas and pilot expenses. Children should also be 10 years old and up to be able to join in the fun of riding on a hot air balloon.
It is advised to come as early as 5 in the morning so as to beat the crowd and see how the balloons are being inflated. The morning balloon flight happens every single day of the event and it truly is a majestic sight. Photo enthusiasts will have a field day taking picturesque shots of the balloons as they come to life. Aside from the morning balloon flights, there will also be afternoon flights but only on the first two days of the event. In these afternoon flights, the balloons do a fly-in where they try to fly back to the main grounds. After the balloons’ take off, a lot more activities will go on thru the day for the delight of the thousands of tourists who flock the yearly fiesta.
One of the must-see is the Hot Air Balloon Night Glow and Fireworks which is the last activity on February 12. The inflated balloons stay on the ground and will illuminate – creating a beauty so pleasing to the eyes.
To PHABF first timers, bring your sunglasses, sun block, hat, binoculars and make sure to wear comfortable footwear. Make sure to have water at hand to beat the heat! You can also bring your own food but there are also more than 50 food stalls to choose from to satisfy your hunger.
The event will be held at the fiesta grounds of Clark Freeport Zone, Pampanga. From Manila, take the North Luzon Expressway and take the exit to Dau, Mabalacat, Pampanga. Make a left turn heading to Angeles City, then another left past the bus terminals. Follow the MacArthur Highway until you see Clark Special Economic Zone, then take a right to enter. From the main gate of Clark, the fiesta grounds will be visible on the right side after a few more minutes of driving. If you are taking a bus ride to the event, take a North bound bus to Dau. Once you reach Dau terminal, a number of jeepney and tricycles are available by the highway to take you to Clark Main Gate. From the Main gate, you can choose to take another jeepney or tricycle ride to the fiesta grounds.
A number of hotels are also available in the vicinity, but make sure to book early because the event draws in huge amount of people to Pampanga every year. Two of the hotels recommended are:
The Philippine Hot Air Balloon Fiesta not only promotes tourism and interests to local and foreign tourists, but it also hopes to inspire, fuel the passion for flying and instill discipline to aspiring young pilots. This fiesta is definitely one of the exciting events in our country. Be there as balloons fly and experience the love of flying that most of us dream of!
Photos by: Ryan Felipe Puno