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Experience The Taitung International Balloon Festival

Discover the magic of hot air balloons in Taitung

· 6 min read

If you're planning a trip to Taiwan, you definitely don't want to miss the Taitung International Balloon Festival. This annual event is a fantastic way to experience the magic of hot air balloons up close, surrounded by stunning scenery and friendly people. Let's take a closer look at what this festival is all about and how you can make the most of your visit.

Source: Balloon Taiwan
Source: Balloon Taiwan

Taitung International Balloon Festival

The Taitung International Balloon Festival is a relatively new addition to the country's list of annual events. First held in 2011 as part of the East Coast Land Arts Festival, it quickly gained popularity and became a standalone event.

Today, it's one of the largest balloon festivals in Asia, attracting thousands of visitors from around the world every year. The festival is a major highlight of Taiwan's summer season, with tens of thousands of international and domestic visitors flocking to Taitung to witness the breathtaking sight of dozens of hot air balloons soaring above the rolling hills and shimmering sea. The festival continues to evolve and innovate, with new attractions and activities added each year.

Source: Balloon Taiwan
Source: Balloon Taiwan

When is the Taitung International Balloon Festival?

The International Balloon Festival usually takes place during summer. This year, it will run a whopping 60 days from 30 June 2023 to 28 August 2023.

Where is the Taitung International Balloon Festival?

The main festival grounds are at the Luye Highlands, though there are fringe events and shows that would take place across various parts of Taitung.

Source: Balloon Taiwan
Source: Balloon Taiwan

What to Do at the Taitung International Balloon Festival?

Of course, the main attraction of the Taitung International Balloon Festival is the hot air balloons themselves. These enormous and intricate creations come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, and each one has its own unique story to tell. Various activities centred around these hot air balloons will be available for you to experience.

Spectacular Balloon Launches

One of the most spectacular images of the festival is undoubtedly the balloon launches, when dozens of balloons take off from the festival grounds and drift over the countryside. This year, the balloon launches will take place in the morning of the first day of the event on 30 June. The exact schedules are not announced yet, but we can expect this to take place in the early morning of the day around sunrise. As the sun rises over the horizon, the balloons fill the sky with a kaleidoscope of colors. Be sure to arrive early to secure a spot on the vast fields if you are planning to catch the launch!

Admire the different hot air balloons

Source: Balloon Taiwan
Source: Balloon Taiwan

Some of the most striking balloons you'll see at the festival are shaped like animals, cartoon characters, or famous landmarks. These special shapes are created by skilled balloon designers who spend countless hours crafting and perfecting their designs. From Hello Kitty to the Taiwan Black Bear, these balloons are sure to capture the imagination of both children and adults alike. This year, a hot air balloon shaped like the Mazu Goddess will be revealed during the festival.

Different hot air balloons will be on display on different times during the festival. Stay tuned to the official site for the line up of the balloon catalogue and when to catch them!

Tethered balloon experience

If you want to take your balloon experience to the next level, you can sign up for a tethered balloon experience. A tethered balloon experience allows you to enjoy the thrill of a hot air balloon ride without leaving the ground. The balloon is tethered to the earth by a rope, so you'll be able to ascend into the sky and enjoy the views from above without drifting away. It's a great option for those who want to look at the balloons from a different perspective.

Source: Balloon Taiwan
Source: Balloon Taiwan

There are two windows for the tethered ballon experience — either from 5.30am - 7.00am in the morning, or from 5.00pm to 6.30pm in the evening. The experience will last approximately 5 minutes. You can purchase the tickets in advance online, or at the venue, subject to availability. If you will be purchasing at the venue, tickets go on sale from 5.00am for the morning session, and from 4.00pm for the evening session.

Night Glow Concerts

Source: Balloon Taiwan
Source: Balloon Taiwan

Another highlight of the event is the Night Glow Concerts. As the sun sets and darkness falls, the balloons light up in a dazzling and intoxicating display of colors. Imagine each balloon shooting flames accompanied with themed music, surrounded by lights and lasers that fill the sky. The glow of the balloons creates an otherworldly atmosphere, and the festival grounds take on a festive and lively vibe. In 2022, drones were used for the first time in the show. This year, it is expected that the drones would be used on a larger scale, creating a majestic view of the skies alongside the hot air balloons.

There will be 9 shows that take place this year, at various locations

Market and Fringe Events

There will be markets and fringe events held around the festival. Aside from the hot air balloons, you can also explore the market that will see stalls selling handicraft, food, and other local produce.

Planning Your Visit

If you are planning to visit the Taitung International Balloon Festival, be sure to check the schedules of the shows and balloon catalogue to make sure you will get to see what you want to!

Booking your tethered balloon experience

If you would like to book a tethered balloon experience, there are only 80 slots released for each session of the experience. Take note of the following times to make your bookings online:

  • For slots between 30 June to 31 July, bookings open from 12pm on 24 May 2023
  • For slots between 1 August to 28 August, bookings open from 12pm on 31 May 2023

You can only purchase 2 tickets in each transaction. Note that there is a minimum height requirement of 110cm, and children below 7 will need to ride with an accompanying adult. Online ticket prices are at 550NTD per person on weekdays; and 650NTD per person on weekends. If you purchase it on the day itself, it is slightly cheaper at 500NTD and 600NTD respectively.

Accommodation Options

To be able to fully enjoy the festival, it is recommended that you spend at least a night in Taitung. Besides, there are so many other things in the area that can be explored.

Source: 21 Holiday Resort
Source: 21 Holiday Resort

The main festival area is at Luye Highlands. There are many options for accommodation in the area, and here are some recommendations:

  • Chii Lih Hotel and Resort: For something more luxurious, check out Chii Lih, a resort-style accommodation with villas available.
  • 21 Holiday Resort: Another resort-style accommodation with various accommodation options. One of the most popular options would be the starry night on the water option where you get to fall asleep while watching the starry night sky.
  • Forest Life BnB: This is a very popular option with a lot of green space around the area if you are looking for a BnB-style accommodation.

Getting to the festival grounds

The easiest way to get to Taitung from other parts of Taiwan is by train, as the city has a major railway station that connects it to Taipei, Kaohsiung, and other major cities.

The nearest train station to the main festival ground is the Luye Train Station. From the train station, you will have to transfer to a Taiwan Tourist Shuttle - East Rift Valley Line (8168A) bus to get to LuYe Gaotai stop, where the festival is held.

Alternatively, you can get to Taitung by flying into Taitung Airport and transferring to a taxi. If you will be staying in a BnB or a hotel, you can also check with the accommodation for shuttle services to and fro the festival grounds.

Nearby Attractions

If you will be visiting Taitung for the International Balloon Festival, take the chance to also explore the city. A few notable landmarks include:

Or head out further to the Sanxiantai, or take the chance to also explore other cities in the region. Trips to Taitung are often combined with a trip to Hualien or Green Island.