The Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta: My Flying Carnival 2020 Experience (and the things you need to know!)

By Anne Elizabeth Apolona Gumiran - 5:00 AM


The Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta 2020 with the theme "Flying Carnival: A Weekend of Almost Everything that Flies" has kicked off last Friday, March 6, 2020. The three-day full of fun and flying event is held at San Lazaro Leisure Park in Carmona, Cavite making it the first Hot Air Balloon Fiesta happening at the south! This longest-running sports aviation event is usually held at Clark, Pamanga. 

My Flying Carnival 2020 Experience  

Few meters off the ground and it feels amazing to be seeing the sunrise from here!
Photo by Mike Santiago of the Upperground Concepts

We left Tagaytay City as early as 4:00 in the morning as we were told by my friends who attended the first day that we are supposed to be in the area as early as 5:30 AM to witness the launching of the Hot Air Balloons. We took the advice and we were also able to arrive at San Lazaro Leisure Park at around 5:30 in the morning. Finding a parking space was quite a  struggle and we did not expect that a lot of people (when I say a lot, I mean a lot lot!) would come. We were able to park past Canyon Ranch. We did not pay any parking fees since we were parked on the side of the road. Parking areas have corresponding fees depending on your ticket and designation. Parking fee ranges from Php 50.00 to Php 100.00.

We walked our way to the entrance with the dark blue sky starting to melt into gorgeous shades of powder blue, orange, pink and gold. The scene was more breath taking when we witnessed the hot air balloons being inflated and ready to launch. Two paramotors were also hovering above San Lazaro Leisure Park as a group of band and dancers entertained everyone from the grounds. 

There were at least 7 hot air balloons on the second day. Most of them have flown already right before we reached the launching area. These were fewer than we have all expected considering the previous hot air balloon festivals
Photo by Mike Santiago of the Upperground Concepts

Oh, that smile, though! Finally ticked this off my bucket list!
Photo by Mike Santiago of the Upperground Concepts
If you are planning to go there for the hot air balloons, make sure that you'll be there as early as 5:00 AM since they really need to fly early. Density is of great consideration in flying a balloon. The air inside the balloon needs to be denser than the outside. This heat actually inflates the balloon. Take note that the hotter the air is, the denser it becomes. Thus, you won't see one flying late in the morning nor midday since it is hotter; hence the air is denser outside.

The passes we got gave us an access to the launching area of the balloons and we  arrived before all the of them has flown. Some have already gone but there were three left which were about to launch. I was lucky enough to get a taste of flying in a hot air balloon.

My face felt like burning when I stood few meters from the balloon. It was not that hot, though, when I got into it. We were three in it - another madame, I and the pilot. With us were I think two propane tanks. At the turn of the small blue lever of the burner, the fire shoot up and we started flying slowly. Up and up (but not away) we go!

It was one of the best moments for me. I mean, I have always loved the sunrise but admiring it from a hot air balloon is quite a different experience. The air was cold on my skin but it gets warm every time the fire goes up to keep the balloon still. The morning sun was warm yet gentle on my face - as gentle as the colors of the pastel sky. We were suspended in the air for several minutes but we had to go down since the propane tanks are almost empty. It was a one of a kind experience!    

Another something that flies!
Photo by Mike Santiago of the Upperground Concepts

After the hot air balloons flew, other flying activities followed. Click here for the schedule of activities of the Flying Carnival.

Attended Flying Carnival 2020 with the South Bloggers!
(From left to right) Chelsea Sayo, Karla Obispo of Travel with Karla, Allan Gokongwei of the Filipino Rambler, it's ya girl, Anne of the Queen's Escape and Adrian Mendoza of Out on a Mission

Photo by Mike Santiago of the Upperground Concepts 
It was scorching hot at around 8:00 AM. We settled at the food corner after the launching of the balloons and had breakfast there. There are tents with tables and chairs and of course, a long line of stalls selling a variety of food and beverages. Take note that it also gets really dusty in the area, thus, I suggest that you bring mask or a scarf to protect yourself from it. The tents, tables and chairs are also limited so it's better that you bring your mats, foldable chairs and umbrella if you intent to stay long. We came unprepared for this one but luckily, we got ourselves a good spot at the food corner. 

The paramotors putting up an exhibition as they circle around a hot air balloon. Quite a show, indeed!
Photo by Mike Santiago of the Upperground Concepts

Admission Tickets and Price

1. Economy Class (General Admission) - Php 500.00
2. Business Class - Php 3,500.00
This ticket includes an Aviation Seminar with morning and afternoon snacks and an access to the private viewing deck
3. First Class - Php 6,500.00
This grants the guests an all-access pass including seminars, designated parking with breakfast and lunch buffet, balloon launch area
4. Photographer's Pass - Php 3,500.00
This gives the the guests an access to the balloon launch area only in the morning.
5. Prenup Pass - Php 40,000.00
This pass allows a group of 6 with an access to the ramp during the hot air balloon launch.

Activities and Ride Tickets

1. Hot Air Balloon Ride - Php 25,000.00 per person
2. Tandem Sky Diving - Php 20,000.00 per person
3. Helicopter Discovery Flight Php 10,000.00 per person (minimum of two)
4. Tandem Paragliding - Php 4,500.00 per person

Got an opportunity to interview the pilots and take photos with these helicopters!
This one is used by the navy for some ocean rescue sort of mission.
Photo by Mike Santiago of the Upperground Concepts 
Hot air balloon from Air Safari! I flew in this one, yay!


How to Get There

A. Commuting from Alabang:
Option 1: From Festival Mall
1. Take a UV Express at Festival Mall Terminal. Alight at Carmona Checkpoint.
2. Take a tricycle to San Lazaro Leisure Park.

Option 2: From Starmall Alabang or South Station:
1. Take a jeepney going to GMA or San Jose at Starmall Alabang or South Station. Alight at Carmona Checkpoint.
2. Ride a tricycle and tell the driver to take you to San Lazaro Leisure Park.

B. Commuting from Makati or Cubao
1. Take a bus bound for Starmall Alabang or South Station. Alight at Alabang. 
2. Take the jeepney bound for GMA or San Jose from the drop off point.
3. Tell the driver to drop you off Carmona Checkpoint. 
4. Ride a tricycle going to San Lazaro Leisure Park. 

Guests with Photographer's Pass are given an access to this spot during the launching of the hot air balloons in the morning
Photo by Mike Santiago of the Upperground Concepts

Remember, Remember

1. Come in early especially if you'll bring your own car. Parking areas get full as early as 5:00 AM.
3. Gates open at 4:30 AM. Best time to come around is from 5:00 AM to 6:30 AM where they start inflating the hot air balloons. This is among the most spectacular events in the Flying Carnival. It is only held in the morning.
4. You may also want to visit at night where Glow Up is held. The hot air balloons stay grounded and are lit. Also, there's a fireworks display to end the day full of fun activities and shows, too. 
5. Prepare for the long line at the entrance. 
6. Do not bring liquids (i.e. perfume) stored in a bottle that is more than 100 mL. The staff at the entrance will ask you to leave it there.
7. Outside food and drinks are not allowed. There are lots of food and beverages stalls inside, though. However, please bear in mind that most of these only accept cash. 
8. Bring foldable chairs and mats where you can sit on. The seats are very limited.
9. Bring umbrella, hat, cap and fans. It gets really hot when the sun is up and the shaded areas are very limited.  
10. Stay hydrated! Again, it's hot in the area.
11. Be careful of your belongings.
12. Pets are allowed as long as they are only the small breed ones. 

Packing up the giant balloon!
Photo by Mike Santiago of the Upperground Concepts

Paramotor in action!
Photo by Mike Santiago of the Upperground Concepts

Stay Connected for Updates!

For more queries, information and updates, you may want to follow International Hot Air Balloon on the following: 
Instagram: @philballoonfest

Is flying in a hot air balloon one of the things in your bucket list? Here's your chance now! Attend the last day of the Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta 2020 and enjoy the weekend with almost everything that flies! 

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