Quirky, colorful balloons decorate autumnal blue skies.
An array of colorful balloons, both large and small, decorates the Kasegawa riverbed in the city of Saga, in Saga Prefecture—it must be the International Balloon Fiesta! First launched in Kyushu in 1978, it is one of the largest such festivals in Asia. The number of balloons participating is sometimes well over 100, and the festival receives entrants from the United States, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Belgium, South Korea, and dozens of other countries too. For Saga locals, this high-flying event has the poetic charm of fall. People often head out in a picnic mood to watch the sight of the balloons floating in the skies.
5 days of serious competition unfolds over 3 tournaments.
Competitors in this tournament are tested on being able to fly a balloon with proper control. Over a 5-day period, participants are challenged by multiple tasks, with the ultimate winner determined by the result. Some competitions are launched from the riverbed, but there are also competitions that fly over residential areas, and the festival period sees balloons flying all over town. It’s not uncommon to look up suddenly and see balloons flying in the sky—you’ll encounter some breathtaking scenes during this very special week.
A fantastic illuminated version lights up the night.
During the festival period, the Saga International Balloon Fiesta features mostly participatory events, but the most popular event of all is "La Montgolfier Nocturne"—an illuminated night event. Watch as colorful balloons emerge fantastically from darkness into firelight. This amazing event envelops visitors in light and music, as well as fireworks. Balloons are great by day, but are truly exceptional at night. If you want to enjoy both, it’s definitely worth staying in Saga during the festival period.
- Kasegawa riverbed, Saga-shi
- 0952-29-9000 (Saga Steering Committee of Hot-air Balloon Festival)
- Dates held
- 5-day period in early November
- Saga Airport is a 90-minute flight from Haneda Airport.
- Saga Station is 30 minutes by limousine bus from Saga Airport.
- Balloon Saga Station is 5 minutes via the JR Nagasaki Main Line from Saga Station. Saga International Balloon Fiesta is a 10-minute walk from Balloon Saga Station.