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Saturday, March 17

Clark Hot Air Balloon Fiesta

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A weekend of everything that flies at Air Force City in Clark.

Part 1 of Hot Air Balloon Fiesta in Clark
I never got the chance to see an actual hot air balloon when I was still a kid. So when I learned that there is a festival celebrated in Clark in tune of its hot air balloons, I eagerly googled it and planned to attend to this one of a kind festival in the Philippines.
Hot Air Balloon Festival started sometime in the mid 90’s and it was still a small event before. But now, the Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Festival in Clark draws in tourists (both foreign and local) to a staggering 100,000 in total last February 2012, knowing that the only main event was of course the flight of the hot air balloons. Other side events include the paragliding show, sky diving and night glow pushed through the night. The festival is annually celebrated inside Omni Aviation Complex at Air Force City in Clark, Pampanga. This happens every second week of February, most likely from Thursday until Sunday.

Festival Celebrated: Hot Air Balloon Festival
Highlights: hot air balloon flights, paragliding exhibition, sky diving, aircraft formation, kite flying, aerobatic flight display, night glow of hot air balloons

Plan Before You Go: Hot Air Balloon Festival Edition
Compared to other festivals celebrated in other parts of the Philippines, Hot Air Balloon Festival in Clark is small. But it is still a bigger event compared to your friend’s birthday party so let’s get into some list I prepared for you who plan to attend this event in Clark.

Our tickets to the Hot Air Balloon Fiesta in Clark

  1. THE TICKET. Unlike other festivals in the country, Hot Air Balloon Festival in Clark requires you to avail of their ticket before you get inside Omni Aviation Complex to watch the balloon flights. So the first thing to do is to book your ticket. I recommend you to buy your ticket in any of the Ticketnet outlets in the country. Where you can find Ticketnet outlet? Ticketnet outlets are located inside SM malls all over the country (in their Payment of Bills area). For the 2012 HABF held just last month, I paid P200 for a ticket (and I bought two tickets for P400). By doing this, you get rid of falling in line on the day of the event just to buy your ticket. And mind you, the line is so long that you wish you should have followed my advice.

    The lost balloon

    The giant cake

  2. GETTING THERE. Getting there is pretty easy. Just follow my instructions on how to get there (How to Go to Clark for the Hot Air Balloon Fest) and that’s it. You don’t have to worry if you come early in Dau, because jeepneys as early as 4 AM are already available and awake.

    The gian ice cream

  3. SCHEDULE. Prior to the event, please check Clark-Subic Marketing website (www.clarksubicmarketing.com). They usually post their schedule ahead of time. Event starts at 5 AM (but this is not followed most of the time). When we were there, it was like already 7 AM when it finally started kicking off the balloon flights. I recommend you to come early so that you can secure a good location just behind the fence. By doing this, you get rid of some heads in your photos. (I swear!)

  1. THE CAMERA. Well do I have to reiterate about this? You need to fully charge the battery of your camera, or bring extra batteries. In my experience, my camera just lasted for three hours, as I take pictures almost every minute just not to miss the balloon flights. Sadly, it was a cloudy day when I attended this event, and I don’t like most of my shots since they were dark, if not a bit dark.

    The giant flower

  2. THE UMBRELLA. If the sun luckily rises when you attend the fest, then you have to bring your umbrella. Clark isn’t Baguio, so you have to bring something that will protect your skin from the scorching heat of the sun. It is not advisable to pray for a windy or cloudy day, since balloon flights will be cancelled if this happens.
    Play area for kids

  3. THE FOOD. If you didn’t bring food, no worries. There are a lot of kiosks and food booths inside the complex. You will get the chance to eat in a trade fair of the different food chains, restaurants and delicacy stores during the fest. Name it, from fast food chains kids always love to restaurants which serve fine food. You won’t be dissatisfied.

    It's more fun in the Philippines

  4. THE PASALUBONG. If you are looking for some souvenirs (or just some proofs that you really went there), there are a lot of booths there that sell souvenirs. T-shirts, hot air balloon miniature (which was so expensive!), kites and the like. Plus there are also stores that offer henna tattoo.
    Sign board

  5. OTHER ATTRACTIONS. Well I find this somewhat boring, but you can take some photo ops with the old planes and tanks as your background. Or you can get inside the vehicle to take some photos. There are also swings and slides there. My nephew liked them. But me, well I baby-sitted him. At least we spent some few hours just to kill time, as we don’t have anything to do after the balloon flights. And it is somewhat boring…haha.

If you have kids with you, this event is for you. Your kids will definitely enjoy watching them. As I had my nephew with me when I went there, he was amazed by that giant ice cream, giant cake, giant flower and the flying car. He even asked me where the flying car will go. I said it will go down later, after it ran out of gas (literally, the “hot” air balloons were powered by gas right?!).

"Drop a coin and I'll move!"

Part 1: Hot Air Balloon Festival in Clark (Plan Before You Go)

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