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Saga International Balloon Fiesta 2016

The Saga International Balloon Fiesta is an annual event which is held over a week from the end of October through the first week of November. Since it began in 1980, it has become the largest balloon competition in Asia with around 100 balloons participating every year. The sky over Saga becomes decorated with dozens of colourful balloons, which is truly a wonderful sight.

Saga balloon fiesta 4

This year Saga is hosting the FAI World Hot Air Balloon Championships, in which 187 balloons from 31 countries will attend, making for an even more exciting event. It will run from OCTOBER 28th (Fri) through NOVEMBER 6th (Sun), 2016..

Competitions are held each morning and afternoon and there are a host of events in between for you to enjoy. Here are our recommendations on what to see.

THE AMAZING SPECTACLE OF A HUNDRED HOT AIR BALLOONS LIFTING OFF AT ONCE

Saga balloon fiesta 1

This is quite breathtaking and not to be missed. The best time to see this is at the morning competition, but you must be there early!

NOTE: In some competitions the balloons take off from a DIFFERENT location and fly INTO the balloon site.

Because the competitions are very dependent on the weather conditions and may be cancelled or changed at the last minute, be sure to check the official website before you head out in the morning.

http://www.sibf.jp/en/

WHAT TIME IS THE COMPETITION?

Competitions are held twice a day from (1) 6:45 and (2) 14:45
The type of event is decided each morning at the task briefing before the competition.
Task Briefings are held at: (1) 5:45  and  (2) 14:00

COLLECTION OF FUN BALLOONS (Balloon Fantasia)

Kids, and I dare say most adults, will love this show of unusually shaped balloons, from cute animals to popular cartoon characters. We’ve heard there’s a new shape coming this year but we’ll have to wait and see what it is!

Saga balloon fiesta 2

The balloon fantasia is held EVERY DAY from 9:00 to 10:30 at the balloon site. The collection of balloons rise up before your eyes and you can get up fairly close to see them.

③ KIDS CAN CLIMB INTO A BALLOON (Kid’s day)

The launch site is usually off-limits to spectators but at the kid’s day you can get up close and even jump into the basket and balloon envelope.

This is only held one day during the week

KID’S DAY 2016: November 1st (Tuesday) from 9:00 to 10:30

④ NIGHT ILLUMINATION! Montgolfier Nocturne (Night mooring)

This has to be my favourite part of the fiesta! As the burners are turned on, the balloons light up the launch site in a spectacular fashion in time to music. It is absolutely magical and definitely not to be missed. Weather conditions may affect the show so again, check before you go.

Saga balloon fiesta Montgolfier

Montgolfier Nocturne: November 5th (Sat) and 6th (Sun) 19:00 to 19:45

WHAT SHOULD I WEAR/BRING?

When the sun is out, it’s quite warm, but early mornings and evenings are chilly so bring a jacket or fleece, hat and gloves. If you’re going to be outdoors all day, it’s a good idea to bring a cushion or small chair to sit on. There are plenty of stalls selling food and drink but you can also bring food with you.

⑤ KEY GRAB RACE

In this event, the balloons launch from a different location and fly into the launch site where there are a number of gigantic keys hanging on poles. Getting close to the keys is a tricky operation which requires a lot of skill on the part of the pilot. Once the balloon gets close to the key, the crew have to try and grab the key. One of the most exciting events for me! Try to get a seat in front of the keys to get the best view.

Saga balloon fiesta keygrab

Source: Saga balloon fiesta Official HP

⑥ REFLECTION OF THE BALLOONS ON THE RIVER

The competition is held next to the Kase river so it’s worth a walk along the river to see the reflections of the balloons.

Saga balloon fiesta reflection

Source: Saga balloon fiesta Official HP

Source: Mypl Saga

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