The International Hot Air Balloon Festival ~ Thailand


Panorama of the International Hot Air Balloon festival in Chiang Mai - Thailand

 

Waking up at 5 in the morning is never an easy thing, especially when the only reason is to go out and shoot a festival about colorful Hot Air Balloons.

However, the motivation is a little stronger when friends decide to wake up and check it out together (Thanks Dustin and Dave).

The International Hot Air Balloon festival is taking place in Chiang Mai – Thailand, during 3 days from the 25th to the 27th of November.

As expected, there weren’t many people around so early in the morning, except for photographers of course.

The whole event consisted of different groups setting up their balloons as quick as possible and fly towards the southern side of town. Every team started unpacking at sunrise, around 6AM and the last one left ground an hour later. It was a short, quick but enjoyable event to photograph, rewarded by a warm nice coffee-filled breakfast afterwards.

Here are a few shots of the festival.

International Hot Air Balloon Festival in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

The festival was taking place in the campus of the Prince Royal College, in the north-eastern part of Chiang Mai.

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International Hot Air Balloon Festival in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

At around 6Am, when the sky started to brighten up, every team unloaded their balloons, tightly packed in pick up trucks. The actual part of the balloon, as seen on the floor is called the “envelope“.

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International Hot Air Balloon Festival in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Different teams started by either unloading the envelope or setting up the basket, also called the “gondola“, carefully attaching the burners on top.

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International Hot Air Balloon Festival in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Different teams from different nationalities were participating in the festival. Here, they are making sure the burners are firmly attached.

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International Hot Air Balloon Festival in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

A  close up shot of the burners, propelling hot air inside the envelope. They are the “engines” of the hot air balloon.

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International Hot Air Balloon Festival in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

A farang (foreigner in Thai) opening up the envelope after preparing the gondola and the burners.

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International Hot Air Balloon Festival in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

A balloon, already filled with hot air, almost ready to take off before sunrise.

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International Hot Air Balloon Festival in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

A Thai team spreading out the envelope while other balloons in the background are almost done.

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International Hot Air Balloon Festival in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

The burners propelling hot air in the envelope. Pretty impressive to see huge flames shoot up inside the balloon.

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International Hot Air Balloon Festival in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

The first balloons taking off during sunrise with different passengers on board.

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International Hot Air Balloon Festival in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

A few more balloons already heading South, while others are getting filled up with hot air.

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International Hot Air Balloon Festival in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

More balloons with colorful patterns.

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International Hot Air Balloon Festival in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Some of the bigger balloons were taking more time to be filled up with hot air.

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International Hot Air Balloon Festival in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

You could pay a fee to hop in one of the balloons for a ride.

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International Hot Air Balloon Festival in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Balloons heading South to another destination, where they will land, unpack, load everything on a truck and head back to the Prince Royal College for a second round later during sunset.

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International Hot Air Balloon Festival in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

The last balloon leaving ground an hour after the event started. This one was the biggest of the festival.

 

Hope you enjoyed the essay.


  • Wow! It looks like there were a lot more balloons on the second day. But after getting up at 5am Friday, I really needed a sleep-in today!
    Great shots, Daniel. You really captured what it was like being there.

  • Argh, getting up at 5am? Guess I’m never going to this one. lol.

    • Well luckily, there was also the same event during sunset around 5pm for “normal people” ;)

  • Some beautiful pictures there. Thanks for getting up so early and for then sharing with us.

    • Thanks a lot Richard. It’s often worth getting up early anyway :)

  • Deb

    Wow! now that’s a lot of balloons. Thanks for sharing, I feel like I was there watching them get ready step by step. Love the shot of the last balloon leaving the ground.

  • Beautiful photos Daniel! Definitely worth waking up early for, especially the pre-dawn early morning skies give an interesting half-awake look to the photos. :)

    • Thank you :)
      Maybe the look is also part of how I felt at that time hehe.

  • We ended up going to the 5pm event and it was madness! I’m kind of bummed we didn’t drag our butts out of bed early enough to see the sunrise launch, but we DID get to see a light show to the tune of Thriller. ;)

    • Thanks Christy!
      Yeah I was thinking of going to the afternoon event too but I just chose to stuff my face at the Saturday/Sunday markets :)

      Would’ve liked to see the show though!

  • Gorgeous work! Loving all the colors and light.

  • my.

    Hey Daniel. Glad I stumbled upon your blog. Love your photography.

    Interesting that you mentioned about waking up at 5:00 am as I just mentioned that exact thing in my latest post. Ha! These balloon photos are stunning. I have yet to shoot (or ride) a hot air balloon event. Looking forward to it sometime in the future.

    — Michelle

    • Thank you very much Michelle!

      I see you didn’t get up at 5 though. Hard decision but it was worth it!

  • Fantastic photos! What a great event to watch. Really love the last two pics.

  • Shooting hot air balloons is a GREAT reason to get out of bed! Nice images.

    • It was hard to get out of bed before sunrise but worth it, I agree :)

      Thanks!