This is the fourth year for the Penang Hot Air Balloon Fiesta, and the crowds are expected to be more enormous than ever. But as a day out for the kids it is quite special, and anyone who hasn’t yet had a chance to get close to a hot air balloon, and who wants a really inexpensive way to go up in the air in one, shouldn’t miss it. It takes place on Saturday and Sunday the 24th and 25th February at the Padang Polo, opposite the Penang General Hospital.
Activities take place all day long, from 7am until 9.30pm, with the highlights being from 7am until 9am and then again from 6pm until 9pm, when the sixteen colourful balloons of all shapes and sizes from all over the world are inflated for display (during the hot daytime hours the balloons have to be deflated again), and people can get close to them to see how they operate and talk to the pilots about their balloons, which this year are being brought from the US, Belgium, Germany, UK, Thailand, Brazil, India, Spain, Malaysia and Taiwan.
During both the morning and the evening sessions the lucky few who are able to secure tickets will be able to rise high above the streets of George Town and look down on all the fun from above in one of three tethered balloons, which may rise up to 60 feet in the air, subject of course to weather conditions.
Entrance to the Fiesta is free of charge, but there are charges for activities. The balloon rides cost RM 50 per person and are sold on a first-come-first-served basis, 150 for the morning session and 150 for the evening session each day.
Food and handicrafts stalls will operate all day, as will the “Fun Zone”, featuring water orbs, inflatables, trampolines, bull rides and reverse bungee jumping for both adults and kids. The prices for the activities within the Fun Zone range form RM 30 for reverse bungee jumping to RM 10 for the trampoline. From 8am until 11am, and again from 5pm until 8pm, you can also try the “Cold Inflation”, a balloon that is filled with cold air, lying on the ground, that you can walk into, for RM 5 per person.
During the heat of the day when the balloons can’t operate, there will be a number of two-hour workshops to join. On Saturday at 10.30am and again at 12.30pm, the DIY Paper Craft Hot Air Balloon costs RM 30 per person, and the Hands-on-Soap-Bubble Art workshop at 2.30pm also costs RM 30 per person. On Sunday you can try Hot Air Balloon Drawing for Kids, at 10.30am and at 12.30pm (RM 15), Hot Air Balloon Origami (10.30am, 12.30pm, 2.30pm and 4.30pm, RM 8), or Hot Air Balloon Clay Art (2.30pm and 4.30pm, RM 30 per person)
Each night, at 8.45pm, the ‘Night Glow’ show will feature 10 illuminated balloons accompanied by music. At 9pm the day ends with a fireworks display.
There are several places to park around Padang Polo but using public transport, Grab or Uber is highly recommended. Rapid Penang will operated free shuttle buses starting at 7am on both days, every thirty minutes from the Jetty, stopping again at Komtar, and every sixty minutes on the hour from Tesco at Tanjung Tokong and from Queensbay Mall, stopping again at Sungai Nibong. Uber are offering a special promotion for the duration too: promo code HAB2018 from 22nd to 25th February for up to RM 7 per ride, up to 7 times per user.