Translated by MATCHA-PR
Let's Go To The Saga International Balloon Festa!
Written by Norihisa Hasegawa
This article features the Saga International Balloon Festa, an event organized in autumn in Saga city. It is a popular event that attracts many participants and visitors from Japan and abroad.
Kyushu has a mild weather in autumn, which makes possible organizing various events throughout the region. This time we will introduce the Saga International Balloon Festa which takes place annually in the last half of October for five days.
The Saga International Balloon Festa
The Saga International Balloon Festa is a balloon competition that has been organized in the Saga Hirano area of Saga city since 1980. At its beginnings around 30,000 viewers gathered to see the competition, but in 2015 the number of viewers reached 760,000 people, making this festival one of the most popular events in autumn. As it is an international festival, of course there are participant teams that come from abroad, and recently the number of foreign visitors has also increased.
The Events Change According to the Weather?
As you can see in the picture, if a black flag is displayed on the festival grounds, that day's competition is cancelled. Although it was a sunny day, the wind was very strong, which lead to the cancellation of the competition for that day.
Because balloons can fly only under certain conditions of weather and wind, the balloon festa is heavily influenced by weather. In 2015, because of rain and strong wind, some of the competitions and events have been cancelled.
If you intend to go, we would like you to fully enjoy the sight of the balloons flying in the sky. For this reason, we recommend you reach the place of the competition at 6:45 in the morning. There are competitions in the morning and afternoon. We recommend going in the morning because the wind is milder and the probability you see the balloons flying is higher.
Take the Train to See This Event
In order to participate at the balloon festa, taking a train on the JR line is convenient. During this event, a temporary station called Balloon Saga Station will be established . If you get off at this station you will already be on the grounds of the event. Going by train is the most convenient method to reach the festa.
In addition, there are temporary parking lots and shuttle buses established around Saga Station. We recommend you use them also.
Find Accommodations in Hakata and Takeo
During the festa, there are many travelers who seek accommodation in the hotels of Saga city, and it will become difficult to reserve a room in a business hotel.
When traveling in Kyushu, many travelers prefer the hotels of Hakata in Fukuoka prefecture. It is therefore a good idea to find accommodation in places like Hakata, then use the JR trains to reach the place of the event.
If you have some more time at your disposal, is would be a good idea to stop by or even find accommodation in Takeo onsen, which we introduced on our website before.
After leaving Hakata in the morning and enjoying a day at the balloon festa, you will be able to relax at the hot springs of Takeo onsen. From Takeo onsen station you can easily reach the Balloon Saga Station by taking a JR train. By doing so, you can enjoy one more day at the balloon festa.
Take Part in the Balloon Meeting
We talked about the Balloon Festa so far, but we will now introduce a different event.
SAGA Balloon Meeting is an event where you can actually experience getting on a balloon basket. During the festa, the competition area, which is usually closed to the visitors, will also be open for access, so you will be able to see how balloons take off and even feel the heat of the device that makes them fly.
The Saga Balloon Festa will be next organized on December 6th 2016, then on January 10th, 18th and February 15th 2016. During this period, the first flight will be from 7:30 in the morning, so it is more convenient as there are less viewers and you can enjoy the event at your own pace.
Saga International Balloon Festa (JR Balloon Saga Station)
Address: Saga,Saga city, Kasegawa Riverside
Opening Hours: 6:30 - 17:00 (the evening events are held until 20:00)
Closed on: never during the festa
Wi-Fi: in a temporary facility on the grounds of the festa
Credit cards: none
Other Languages: in some of the facilities
Pamphlets in other languages: No
Nearest station: Balloon Saga Station
Access: direct access from Balloon Saga Station
Price range: free
Website: Saga Balloon Festa 2015 (Japanese)