Finally, on my last day in Saga I saw a hot air balloons competition at Saga International Balloon Fiesta. The morning competition was scheduled to start at 6:30 am, so I had to wake up at 4 (I was checking out of my hotel that day). Although daytime temperatures on Kyushu in early November can still be comfortably warm, nights are cold and so are the mornings. It was very cold at the venue and still dark when I got there. Then the balloons started firing up their engines, the spectacle began, and I wasn’t thinking about cold anymore.
This was my first time seeing a ballooning event. Now I’m a big fan of hot air balloons.
Saga International Balloon Fiesta is a world class hot air balloon competition held every year in early November on the outskirts of Saga city. It spans approximately one week and coincides with another popular event, Karatsu Kunchi Festival in Karatsu (1 hour train ride from Saga). It’s possible to see a little bit of both events in one day if the weather cooperates, but I’d recommend staying for at least 2 nights somewhere in the area.