Clark Airfield is about two hours away from Manila with light traffic, so it is possible to go the festival on a day trip. But it would mean leaving Manila at around three in the morning. The hot air balloons are pumped around 5.30 and released at 6.00. The pumping of the balloons is as exciting as seeing them fly so it is a must-see!
Our group decided to stay overnight in Angeles City so we can enjoy a bit of the the city outside the festival. We did get a chance to eat the sisig it is known for. We were supposed to leave the hotel at five in the morning, but being late risers, we were thirty minutes behind schedule. It was already traffic going to Clark Airfield but at least it was moving. Any later and the traffic would be a crawl.
As we were approaching Clark Airfield, we could already see the balloons from a distance. They were already pumped and ready to go. I saw a turtle, a barn, a sun wearing shades, a beer and a bunch of regular-shaped hot air balloons. As we drew nearer, the balloons were being released into the sky. It was an awesome spectacle. Despite my meager camera lens, I still took photos. They were teeny-tiny dots on my camera. There were also some paragliders going around and around the airfield area.
Parking was quite a task. We paid P50 parking fee. It was probably half a kilometer away from the entrance. Since the balloons were already out, it was fine because some of them flew over our heads.
The lines for the event were quite long but like the traffic was moving quite nicely. It was once you were inside that things get difficult. There was a bottleneck to the venue so it was like a bunch of people sardines being moved by the force behind you that one's own free will that actually got you from one place to another. Thank God it was only a short stretch, so in five (excruciating) minutes we were free of the sardine crowd and was just in the ordinary crowd of people... with breathing space and a view other than heads.
We placed our mat in the middle of the first free space that we saw. It was around 8.30 and the commentator was announcing that the balloons were being brought down to make way for the airplane show.
It was a funny sight seeing a giant beer land in the middle of the field and slowly deflate into a giant brown cloth on the ground. The turtle and the barn also gently landed near the hangar. As the turtle slowly deflated, it's grin seemed to linger like Alice in Wonderland's chershire cat. The cow, the pig and the farmer inside the barn smiles lingered as the barn deflated.
That would not have been the last that we would see of them because they were to make a come back for the night glow.
The night glow began at 5.30 in the afternoon. The trucks carrying the baskets and the balloons started laying their cloths flat on the ground. There was a fan that they used to blow inside the balloons to give it shape. Once there was adequate shape, they heated up the air inside the balloon. The turtle, the barn, the groovy sun and the rest of the balloons were back. The beer was conspicuously missing. With the sky already dark, there was a different effect on the balloons as the fire raged inside their bellies. It was a beautiful, colorful effect as the fire inside illuminated the balloons which provided a beautiful contrast against the darkness. The fires danced to accompanying music, making it an audio-visual delight for its audiences. As the music ended, the festival ended with fireworks from the distance.
There was a crowd when we came in, there was the same crowd when we left. People this time were chattering with excitement from what they have witnessed.
It is definitely a wonderful experience, and one I would recommend for families and groups to share together. :)