Hot air balloons brighten the sky, day and night, at the International Balloon Fiesta in Saga Prefecture.
The skies over Saga become awash with vibrantly decorated hot air balloons during the first week of November as the prefecture hosts the Saga International Balloon Fiesta.
Since the festival was first held in 1980, it has become the largest sky-sporting event in Asia, attracting hundreds of hot air balloons and thousands of spectators from across the world.
The event is split into three tournaments held over six days. Each day, balloons are raised up into the sky from the main launch site on the banks of the Kase River, at around 7am. A number of events and activities are then held until around 5pm, when the sun sets.
After dark the balloons are illuminated by the flames from their burners, creating a stunning scene in the night's sky. Live music adds to the festival atmosphere.
On the final day of the event is the Grand Final, accompanied by a display of fireworks and a modern light show: a great spectacle sure to be memorable.
Photo By Jewell Willett
How to get there
The closest station is Balloon Saga Station, a five-minute train ride on the JR Nagasaki Main Line, from where it s a 10-minute walk to the riverside venue. Alternatively, there are shuttle buses from the nearby Saga Station. Since this is an international event, information is available in English.
The 2023 fiesta will be held over November 1–5. Weather is always a factor for hosting so it is best check the event website for up-to-date information, both before and during the event.