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The annual Hot Air Balloon Festival 2019 is here to dazzle spectators once again, from high above and down below.


By Vianca Gamboa


Hot Air Balloon Festival

Gone are those days when hot air balloons were mere figments of our imagination and could only be viewed in our favorite Pixar films, thanks to the annual Hot Air Balloon Festival that has been serving the aerial attraction for our eyes to feast on since 1994.

This 2019, Frontrow International is bringing back the longest running aerial show and is set to zoom from the much bigger grounds of Clark Global City at Clark Freeport, Mabalacat, Pampanga on April 12 to 14. In case you’ve never seen a life-sized hot air balloon in the flesh before, then here’s your chance to soak in all that visually appealing, larger-than-life gathering of hot air balloons, and maybe, even ride in one, too.

According to Wilfredo Placino, vice-chairman and president of the Global Gateway Development Corp., the Mt. Pinatubo eruption paved the way for this festival to soar high, as a way to help jumpstart Pampanga’s economy and tourism.

Now, it gets bolder and brighter every year with high-energy ground festivities and new additions to the lineup of eye-popping balloons in all shapes and sizes. Safety officer Serafin Tolentino also assures that everyone’s welfare is to be taken care of since it’s a big event that will be graced by around 50,000 to 70,000 people from different walks of life—from families to tourists.


From left: Serafin Tolentino, safety officer; Noel Castro, consultant; Wilfredo Placino, vice chairman & president of Global Gateway Development Corp.; and Bernie Bituin, launch master

The parade in the sky will feature a roster of hot air balloons from participating countries such as Korea, US, Belgium, Malaysia, the Netherlands, France, Thailand, Australia, Brazil, Vietnam, and India. In summary, there are a total of 20 balloons, all geared-up to dot the sky with giant animals, wacky faces, cartoon characters, and vivid colors—almost like a Halloween party up above. The fun part is that you can hop aboard these huge, quirky, flying objects and have a great adventure in the sky.

Earthbound visitors, however, can roam around the vast area and indulge in various attractions for some active fun. You can also find some great food and shopping kiosks at every spot of the venue. Kids and kids-at-heart, not to mention those who have the acrophobia bug, can enjoy the inflatable slides and special cartoon shows. What’s a festival without some blazing music by the hottest local acts? Along with Kapampangan bands, the festival will be having Slapshock on Friday, Kamikazee on Saturday, and Ely Buendia, Hale, and Unique Salonga on Sunday, to take on the stage and amplify the energy of the spectators. Stunt shows by National Drift Championship, Slalom Racing, Philippine Auto Cross Championship Series, Philippine Rally Cross Series, and Suzuki Motorcycle Philippines will also get your adrenaline revving. Don’t miss this jam-packed and gravity-defying festival that will get your body and spirit soaring high.

Gates are open as early as 5 a.m. General admission tickets are priced at P350 per day, while tethered balloon rides are priced at P500 per person. Kids three feet below in height are free of charge.

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