Saga International Balloon Fiesta is one of Asia's largest hot air balloon events that is held at the beginning of November every year in a riverbed along the Kasegawa River in Saga Prefecture.
Although the first event held in 1980 was participated in by only fourteen hot air balloons, nowadays, over 100 hot air balloons take part in the Saga International Balloon Fiesta. A hot air balloon race is called a "task", where participants compete for their operation skills, not based on a time and distance. To be more specific, participants drop a marker (a small sand bag with colorful streamers) on a specified target to bring the hot air balloon as closer as possible to the target to compete with each other. Looking at how the balloons buzz the surface of the ground is extremely exciting unlike their elegant images.
The stretch of the Saga Plains centering on the riverbed along the Kasegawa River, which is the venue of the event, offers stable airflow sufficient for takeoff and landing a hot air balloon, and what is more, there is a layer that provides winds blowing in various directions, making it an ideal site for an international convention of hot air balloons. Saga's well-balanced winds have been creating a tremendous amount of interest among the balloonists around the world.
While the race starts early morning and early evening when the airflow is stable, fun-shaped hot air balloons and other themed balloons that do not participate in the race appear during the day to add to the excitement. In addition, there are an array of fun events to keep visitors entertained, such as a talent show and a public broadcasting of radio shows. Among a number of attractions, the must-see highlight is the La Montgolfier Nocturne, where over a hundred of colorful hot air balloons fly around all together in an early morning and early evening to display fantastic sceneries that can be enjoyed only in Saga.
The event's nigh mooring show, the La Montgolfier Nocturne, displays a hundred of hot air balloons being fired by burners creating a magical spectacle in the night sky.
● Schedule: the event starts in the end of October every year
*For details in the schedule, visit:
From train station: Get off at Nagasaki Balloon Station (seasonal station), the second station toward Nagasaki from Saga Station on the JR Nagasaki Main Line
Car: 30-minute drive from Nagasaki Expressway Saga-Yamato IC
● Contact: Saga Balloon Fiesta Management Committee Tel: +81-952-29-9000