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20th Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta: Cultural Adventure

February might be famously known as "Heart's Month" but it is also the month that we could enjoy the biggest aviation sports event in the country. Celebrated in Clark Freeport Zone in Angeles City, Pampanga every second week of February, the Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta is famously known as the fiesta for everything that flies.

This year's four-day event was held from February 11-14. It showcased a number of aerial exhibitions and ground events which was flocked by thousands of local and foreign tourists alike. 
Got my tickets!
The place has plenty of space to park your car
Perfect way to start the event is the arrival of a flag-carrying skydiver with the singing of the Philippine National Anthem

Hot Air Balloons getting ready for lift off
The Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta started in 1994, three years after the devastating eruption of Mt. Pinatubo. It's main aim is to help jump start the economy and morale of the people residing in the lands destroyed by the catastrophe. 
Mt. Arayat as seen from a distance
The festival was going well on the first few years after its launch. However, due to financial difficulties, it was cancelled in 1999 but quickly recovered and resumed a year after. To date, it's celebrating its 20th year.
Off they go!

My wife and I got to experience the 17th Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta several years ago. During our first visit, we tried commuting from Manila to Angeles City, Pampanga and found out first hand how challenging it was. So, this year, I've decided to drive instead.

Now that is a real life fighter jet
I wonder if these are still operational
One of the several APC displays
You can take one of these home (If you buy them)
Some displays in one of the booths

You could also try this one out (but you have to line up)

Ella posing with a Storm Trooper
Ella with Dora the Explorer

Since we got control of our time, thus we got to the venue early. The perks of it of course is that we got to get the best parking slot available (near the entrance ) and more importantly, we managed to get some 2-3 hours of sleep (I found out that driving from 12 midnight to 2AM is not a joke).

Unlike our first visit, we managed to watch the early morning lift off of the hot air balloons which we failed to do during our first visit. This and the Night-glow are, for me, the highlights of the festival.

Some of the hot air balloons that I fancied:

There were several more activities lined up for the day, however, since we brought my young daughter along and it was very hot, we decided to cut short our stay in the festival venue and then head to SM Clark instead. It was there that I got to avail of the Starbucks Pampanga city tumbler for my collection. After enjoying the "airconditioned' mall, we decided to call it a day and go back home instead of returning to the venue.

Overall, we enjoyed the festival and we could safely say that the P350 pax worth ticket is worth your cultural adventure.

If you're planning to attend next year's festival, please do keep these in mind:

  1. Leave Manila very early (like 12 midnight)
  2. Wear loose and comfortable clothes. It's quite hot and humid there during noon.  
  3. Bring an umbrella, hat/cap, and banig.
  4. Bring your own food and drink.
  5. Google and print the festival itinerary from their website.
Overall rating


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