The History of Balloon Competition in Saga

This competition started as a small balloon meeting in 1978 in Amagi City,Fukuoka Prefecture. At that time it was called the "Balloon Fiesta in Kyushu." From 1980 on the Balloon Fiesta has taken place on the plains of Saga.

In 1984 it became an international competition and was renamed the "SagaInternational Balloon Fiesta." Putting competition at the heart of the Fiesta,in 1984 the first Japanese National Hot Air Balloon Championship was held, and since then has been held a total of 10 times.

Every year the top balloonists from around Japan and the world gather here. Since 1984 there have been approximately 640 balloons from overseas participate (nearly 3000 crew and pilots). The over all winner of the international competition is presented with the Pacific Cup. Most of the previous winners have been foreign competitors, however in 1993,19994, and 1998 there were Japanese Champions.

In 1989 the 9th Hot Air Balloon World Championships were held here in Saga. Approximatly 132 balloons from 25 countries and territories competed for this coveted prize in the skies of Saga. In 1990 the first Pacific Championship was held in Saga. In November 1997 the 13th Hot Air Balloon World Championships were again held in Saga. With numbers rarely seen outside of the United States, this World Championship was the largest ever with over 38 countries and territoriesparticipating. There were 112 balloons present for the World Championship and together with the balloons that were competing in the Honda Grand Prix "Final Battle", Balloon Fantasia, and official balloons there were 170 balloons flying through the skies of Saga. Because of this it can be said that Saga is judged with high regard.

In addition, between 1990 and 1996 women from around the world gathered in Saga and participated in the Ladies World Cup. Many of the world's women balloonists took notice of this event and came to Saga in great numbers. Saga was the first place to have a competition of this kind.

Still more, beginning in 1992 a category for special shaped balloons, called "Balloon Fantasia" was created with the idea that this would allow spectators and guests to enjoy balloons with so many strange and wonderful shapes. Also included in this is the "La Mongtgolfier Nocturne (The Night of Hot Air Balloons)" in which balloons inflate and tether to the ground after sunset and all at once light their burners, making for a fantastic scene. Since 1997, in order to increase the fans of ballooning special days during the Fiesta have been established for people to experience the balloons. These include "Heartful Day" a day geared toward handicap members of the community. There is also a Hot Air Balloon Classroom for children on "Kids Day".

The Saga International Balloon Fiesta has grown from a gathering of 5 hot air balloons to a competition where over 3500 people volunteer, and have become one of the top ballooning competitions in the world. Since 1980 the launch site has been visited by over 10 million spectators. We hope everyone will give a warm and hearty cheer to the participants from throughout Japan and many far away lands.

1978 Balloon Fiesta in Kyusyu
  5 balloons, no competition

1979 Balloon Fiesta in Kyusyu
  8 balloons, 2 tasks

1980 Balloon Fiesta in Kyusyu
  14 balloons, 2 tasks

1981 Balloon Fiesta in Saga
  18 balloons, 4 tasks

1982 Balloon Fiesta in Saga
  24 balloons

1983 Balloon Fiesta in Saga
  34 balloons, 8 tasks

1984 Saga International Balloon Fiesta 
  49 balloons (non-competition 16), 7 tasks
  the 1st Pacific Cup: 33 balloons (foreign 10)
  The 1st Japan National Championship: 23 balloons

1985 Saga International Balloon Fiesta 
  50 balloons (non-competition 20) 8 tasks
  the 2nd Pacific Cup: 30 balloons (foreign 10)
  the 2nd Japan National Championship: 25 balloons

1986 Saga International Balloon Fiesta
  83 balloons 7 tasks
  the 3rd Pacific Cup: 83 balloons (foreign 31)
  the 3rd Japan National Championship: 52 balloons

1987 Saga International Balloon Fiesta
  76 balloons (non-competition 18) 8 tasks
  the 4th Pacific Cup: 58 balloons (foreign 12)
  the 4th Japan National Championship: 46 balloons

1988 Saga International Balloon Fiesta 
  92 balloons (foreign 20, non-competition 10) 11 tasks
  the 5th Pacific Cup: 82 balloons (foreign 20)
  the 5th Japan National Championship: 62 balloons

1989 9th Hot Air Balloon World Championship 132 balloons
  Competitors: 102 balloons (foreign 94) 18 tasks
  Fiesta (the 6th Pacific Cup): 23 balloons (foreign 5) 10 tasks
  Official: 7 balloons

1990 Saga International Balloon Fiesta
  85 balloons (non-competition 13) 12 tasks
  the 1st Pacific Championship: 50 balloons (foreign 17)
  the 7th Pacific Cup: 72 balloons (foreign 34)
  the 1st Ladies World Cup: 22 balloons (foreign 13)

1991 Saga International Balloon Fiesta
  110 balloons (non-competition 12) 14 tasks
  the 8th Pacific Cup: 98 balloons (foreign 34)
  the 2nd Ladies World Cup: 17 balloons (foreign 7)
  the 8th Japan National Championship: 64 balloons
  Official and Fiesta: 12 balloons (foreign 3)

1992 Saga International Balloon Fiesta
  136 balloons (non-competition 24, 19 countries) 11 tasks
  the 9th Pacific Cup: 112 balloons (foreign 40, 16 countries)
  the 3rd Ladies World Cup: 14 balloons (foreign 7, 6 countries)
  the 9th Japan National Championship: 72 balloons
  Balloon Fantasia '92: 8 balloons (foreign 5, 5 countries)
  Official and Fiesta: 16 balloons (foreign 3)

1993 Saga International Balloon Fiesta
  136 balloons (non-competition 26, 17 countries) 13 tasks
  the 10th Pacific Cup: 110 balloons (foreign 34, 15 countries)
  the 4th Ladies World Cup: 12 balloons (foreign 7, 6 countries)
  the 10th Japan National Championship: 76 balloons
  Balloon Fantasia '93: 8 balloons (foreign 7, 5 countries)
  1993 HONDA Japan Grand Prix -final-: 18 teams
  Official and Fiesta: 18 balloons (foreign 3)

1994 Saga International Balloon Fiesta
  120 balloons (non-competition 19, 16 countries) 17 tasks
  the 11th Pacific Cup: 101 balloons (foreign 33, 14 countries)
  the 5th Ladies World Cup: 10 balloons (foreign 4, 6 countries)
  the 11th Japan National Championship: 68 balloons
  Balloon Fantasia '94: 6 balloons (foreign 4, 4 countries)
  1994 HONDA Japan Grand Prix -final-: 18 teams
  Official and Fiesta: 13 balloons (foreign 1)

1995 Saga International Balloon Fiesta
  121 balloons (non-competition 21, 16 countries) 10 tasks
  the 12th Pacific Cup: 100 balloons (foreign 34, 14 countries)
  the 6th Ladies World Cup: 13 balloons (foreign 5, 6 countries)
  Balloon Fantasia '95: 7 balloons (foreign 5, 4 countries)
  1995 HONDA Grand Prix -final-: 25 teams
  Official and Fiesta: 14 balloons (foreign 2)

1996 Saga International Balloon Fiesta
  128 balloons (non-competition 23, 17 countries) 15 tasks
  the 13th Pacific Cup: 105 balloons (foreign 39, 15 countries)
  the 7th Ladies World Cup: 9 balloons (foreign 4, 5 countries)
  the 13th Japan National Championship: 66 balloons
  Balloon Fantasia '96: 7 balloons (foreign 4, 5 countries)
  1996 HONDA Grand Prix -final-: 26 teams
  Official and Fiesta: 13 balloons (foreign 1)

1997 Saga Hot Air Balloon World Championship
  171 balloons (non-competition 57, 38 countries)
  the 13th Hot Air Balloon World Championship:
  114 balloons (foreign 110, 38 countries)
  Balloon Fantasia '97: 13 balloons (foreign 7, 6 countries)
  1997 HONDA Grand Prix -final-: 20 teams
  Official and Fiesta: 24 balloons (foreign 6)

1998 Saga International Balloon Fiesta
  101 balloons (non-competition 23 , 12 countries) 12 tasks
  the 14th Pacific Cup: 78 balloons (foreign 21 , 10 countries)
  the 15th Japan National Championship: 57 balloons
  Balloon Fantasia '98: 10 balloons (foreign 5 , 4 countries)
  1998 HONDA Grand Prix -final-: 21 teams
  Official and Fiesta: 13 balloons (foreign )

1999 Saga International Balloon Fiesta
  1999 Saga International Balloon Fiesta
  121 balloons (non-competion22 , 14countries)
  the 15th Pacific Cup:98 balloons (foreign 34 , 13 countries)
  the 16th Japan National Championship :64 balloons
  Balloon Fantasia'99 :9 balloons (foreign6 : 5countries)
  1999 HONDA Grand Prix -final- : 20 teams
  Official and Fiesta : 13 balloons