Hot Air Ballooning
The highlight of the fiesta is always the hot air balloon flights, taking place every sunrise and sunset (weather permitting). Considered the oldest human-carrying flying technology, a hot air balloon consists of an envelope filled with heated air, and a gondola or basket, which carries passengers and a heat source. The heated air in the envelope has a lower density than the cold air outside, allowing the hot air balloon to fly.
Hot air balloons require very specific weather conditions. They cannot inflate or fly if the wind is too strong, and they cannot fly if the air is too hot. If the wind is stronger than 10 knots (about 18Km/h), it is very dangerous for pilots to inflate the balloons and would put the audience at risk. Rain will also cancel any hot air balloon activity. Calm winds and clear skies are the best flying conditions.
Let’s all hope for fair weather during the Fiesta!
Hot Air Balloon Rides
Riding a hot air balloon is an exceptional way to fly, with its slow and steady movement, and the bird’s eye view it affords. It’s literally going where the winds take you – usually a small town, which you will never get to visit in any another way, and where kids are happily waiting to welcome you with a smile.
The Fiesta offers daily lifts every morning and (depending on wind conditions) afternoon, an opportunity that should not be missed. Get a chance to chat with pilots from all over the world and enjoy the cool breeze and beautiful scenery at least 2,000 ft. above the ground! You’ll float in the air for about 30 minutes, depending on wind conditions. After landing, often in remote locations – from rice fields to lahar-covered terrain – you’ll see how pilots pack up their balloons. Then you’ll jump into an off-road 4×4 vehicle and have an exciting ride back to the Fiesta grounds!
Morning rides lift off at around 6:30 AM depending on wind conditions. Passengers must be at the Info Booth inside the Fiesta 2 hours in advance for briefing.
Hot air balloon ride tickets must be purchased in advance. Ride ticket prices do not include entrance fees. Please purchase a separate entrance ticket.
Hare and Hound Competition
In the Fiesta mornings, the hot air balloons have a Hare and Hound competition. The competition is named after the hunting event where hounds chase after a hare. In ballooning, the Hare, which is normally the host balloon, will take off and try to fly around in different altitudes to make it difficult for the Hound balloons to follow. The Hare balloon will drop a huge X marker, and this will be the target of the hound balloons. The hound balloons will be allowed to take off after two minutes and will try to chase the Hare balloon. The hound balloon to land closest to the target wins!
On the Saturday and Sunday Evenings of the Fiesta, the hot air balloons are burning together at night for a wonderful spectacle of lights!
The Night Glow is usually scheduled around 6PM – 7PM, and will push through depending on wind conditions.
Chase Crew & Off-Road Driving
As soon as the hot air balloons set off, the chase crew immediately follows, maintaining contact with the balloon, trying to keep it in sight until the it land lands. Their job is to help pack up the deflated balloon, and extract the pilot, passengers and equipment back to base.
Landing sites are often in remote locations – from rice fields to lahar-covered terrain – making the job an exciting road trip aboard an off-road 4×4 vehicle!