Myanmar's Blustering Balloon Fest Marks Rainy Season's End

Published November 7th, 2019 - 07:28 GMT

The annual balloon festival in Taunggyi, Myanmar, attracting more than 20,000 spectators marks the end of the rainy season. Close to the end of the Buddhist Lent in November the mountain city attracts dozens of teams from all over the country who come to launch balloons. 

History teacher Lionel Ahbo said the festival stems from a story of the Buddha, who believed that if he sent his hair up in a balloon to the heavens — and if it stayed up — he would become a true Buddha.

More than 400 fire balloons are taking flight from Taunggyi during this year's festival.

While the display is an event many enjoy, accidents are reported there almost every year. 

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This picture taken on November 4, 2019 shows Wa ethnic women smiling during the Tazaungdaing Lighting Festival at Taunggyi in Myanmar's northeastern Shan State. Brightly coloured balloons with hundreds of homemade fireworks woven into their frames are sent soaring into the night sky, showering down cascades of sparks onto adoring crowds in the annual Taunggyi fire balloon festival. Ye Aung THU / AFP

This picture taken on November 4, 2019 shows Wa ethnic women smiling during the Tazaungdaing Lighting Festival at Taunggyi in Myanmar's northeastern Shan State. Brightly coloured balloons with hundreds of homemade fireworks woven into their frames are sent soaring into the night sky, showering down cascades of sparks onto adoring crowds in the annual Taunggyi fire balloon festival. Ye Aung THU / AFP

This picture taken on November 5, 2019 shows participants celebrating as fireworks explode after they released a hot-air balloon attached with fireworks during the Tazaungdaing Lighting Festival at Taunggyi in Myanmar's northeastern Shan State. Brightly coloured balloons with hundreds of homemade fireworks woven into their frames are sent soaring into the night sky, showering down cascades of sparks onto adoring crowds in the annual Taunggyi fire balloon festival. Ye Aung THU / AFP

This picture taken on November 5, 2019 shows participants celebrating as fireworks explode after they released a hot-air balloon attached with fireworks during the Tazaungdaing Lighting Festival at Taunggyi in Myanmar's northeastern Shan State. Brightly coloured balloons with hundreds of homemade fireworks woven into their frames are sent soaring into the night sky, showering down cascades of sparks onto adoring crowds in the annual Taunggyi fire balloon festival. Ye Aung THU / AFP

This picture taken on November 4, 2019 shows participants releasing a hot-air balloon attached with fireworks during the Tazaungdaing Lighting Festival at Taunggyi in Myanmar's northeastern Shan State. Brightly coloured balloons with hundreds of homemade fireworks woven into their frames are sent soaring into the night sky, showering down cascades of sparks onto adoring crowds in the annual Taunggyi fire balloon festival. Ye Aung THU / AFP

This picture taken on November 4, 2019 shows participants releasing a hot-air balloon attached with fireworks during the Tazaungdaing Lighting Festival at Taunggyi in Myanmar's northeastern Shan State. Brightly coloured balloons with hundreds of homemade fireworks woven into their frames are sent soaring into the night sky, showering down cascades of sparks onto adoring crowds in the annual Taunggyi fire balloon festival. Ye Aung THU / AFP

This picture taken on November 4, 2019 shows participants releasing a hot-air balloon attached with fireworks during the Tazaungdaing Lighting Festival at Taunggyi in Myanmar's northeastern Shan State. Brightly coloured balloons with hundreds of homemade fireworks woven into their frames are sent soaring into the night sky, showering down cascades of sparks onto adoring crowds in the annual Taunggyi fire balloon festival. Ye Aung THU / AFP

This picture taken on November 4, 2019 shows participants releasing a hot-air balloon attached with fireworks during the Tazaungdaing Lighting Festival at Taunggyi in Myanmar's northeastern Shan State. Brightly coloured balloons with hundreds of homemade fireworks woven into their frames are sent soaring into the night sky, showering down cascades of sparks onto adoring crowds in the annual Taunggyi fire balloon festival. Ye Aung THU / AFP

This picture taken on November 4, 2019 shows Pa-O ethnic women performing a traditional dance during the opening ceremony of the Tazaungdaing Lighting Festival at Taunggyi in Myanmar's northeastern Shan State. Brightly coloured balloons with hundreds of homemade fireworks woven into their frames are sent soaring into the night sky, showering down cascades of sparks onto adoring crowds in the annual Taunggyi fire balloon festival. Ye Aung THU / AFP

This picture taken on November 4, 2019 shows Pa-O ethnic women performing a traditional dance during the opening ceremony of the Tazaungdaing Lighting Festival at Taunggyi in Myanmar's northeastern Shan State. Brightly coloured balloons with hundreds of homemade fireworks woven into their frames are sent soaring into the night sky, showering down cascades of sparks onto adoring crowds in the annual Taunggyi fire balloon festival. Ye Aung THU / AFP

This picture taken on November 5, 2019 shows participants celebrating as fireworks explode after they released a hot-air balloon attached with fireworks during the Tazaungdaing Lighting Festival at Taunggyi in Myanmar's northeastern Shan State. Brightly coloured balloons with hundreds of homemade fireworks woven into their frames are sent soaring into the night sky, showering down cascades of sparks onto adoring crowds in the annual Taunggyi fire balloon festival. Ye Aung THU / AFP

This picture taken on November 5, 2019 shows participants celebrating as fireworks explode after they released a hot-air balloon attached with fireworks during the Tazaungdaing Lighting Festival at Taunggyi in Myanmar's northeastern Shan State. Brightly coloured balloons with hundreds of homemade fireworks woven into their frames are sent soaring into the night sky, showering down cascades of sparks onto adoring crowds in the annual Taunggyi fire balloon festival. Ye Aung THU / AFP

This picture taken on November 5, 2019 shows participants celebrating as fireworks explode after they released a hot-air balloon attached with fireworks during the Tazaungdaing Lighting Festival at Taunggyi in Myanmar's northeastern Shan State. Brightly coloured balloons with hundreds of homemade fireworks woven into their frames are sent soaring into the night sky, showering down cascades of sparks onto adoring crowds in the annual Taunggyi fire balloon festival. Ye Aung THU / AFP

This picture taken on November 5, 2019 shows participants celebrating as fireworks explode after they released a hot-air balloon attached with fireworks during the Tazaungdaing Lighting Festival at Taunggyi in Myanmar's northeastern Shan State. Brightly coloured balloons with hundreds of homemade fireworks woven into their frames are sent soaring into the night sky, showering down cascades of sparks onto adoring crowds in the annual Taunggyi fire balloon festival. Ye Aung THU / AFP

This picture taken on November 6, 2019 shows a hot-air balloon attached with fireworks taking off during the Tazaungdaing Lighting Festival at Taunggyi in Myanmar's northeastern Shan State. Brightly coloured balloons with hundreds of homemade fireworks woven into their frames are sent soaring into the night sky, showering down cascades of sparks onto adoring crowds in the annual Taunggyi fire balloon festival. Ye Aung THU / AFP

This picture taken on November 6, 2019 shows a hot-air balloon attached with fireworks taking off during the Tazaungdaing Lighting Festival at Taunggyi in Myanmar's northeastern Shan State. Brightly coloured balloons with hundreds of homemade fireworks woven into their frames are sent soaring into the night sky, showering down cascades of sparks onto adoring crowds in the annual Taunggyi fire balloon festival. Ye Aung THU / AFP

This picture taken on November 4, 2019 shows a participant preparing to release a hot-air balloon during the Tazaungdaing Lighting Festival at Taunggyi in Myanmar's northeastern Shan State. Brightly coloured balloons with hundreds of homemade fireworks woven into their frames are sent soaring into the night sky, showering down cascades of sparks onto adoring crowds in the annual Taunggyi fire balloon festival. SAI AUNG MAIN / AFP

This picture taken on November 4, 2019 shows a participant preparing to release a hot-air balloon during the Tazaungdaing Lighting Festival at Taunggyi in Myanmar's northeastern Shan State. Brightly coloured balloons with hundreds of homemade fireworks woven into their frames are sent soaring into the night sky, showering down cascades of sparks onto adoring crowds in the annual Taunggyi fire balloon festival. SAI AUNG MAIN / AFP

This picture taken on November 6, 2019 shows a reveller looking at lanterns attached to a hot-air balloon with fireworks during the Tazaungdaing Lighting Festival at Taunggyi in Myanmar's northeastern Shan State. Brightly coloured balloons with hundreds of homemade fireworks woven into their frames are sent soaring into the night sky, showering down cascades of sparks onto adoring crowds in the annual Taunggyi fire balloon festival. Ye Aung THU / AFP

This picture taken on November 6, 2019 shows a reveller looking at lanterns attached to a hot-air balloon with fireworks during the Tazaungdaing Lighting Festival at Taunggyi in Myanmar's northeastern Shan State. Brightly coloured balloons with hundreds of homemade fireworks woven into their frames are sent soaring into the night sky, showering down cascades of sparks onto adoring crowds in the annual Taunggyi fire balloon festival. Ye Aung THU / AFP

This picture taken on November 4, 2019 shows firefighters at work after a fireworks-laden hot-air balloon ignited before the balloon was at a sufficient height during during the Tazaungdaing Lighting Festival at Taunggyi in Myanmar's northeastern Shan State. Brightly coloured balloons with hundreds of homemade fireworks woven into their frames are sent soaring into the night sky, showering down cascades of sparks onto adoring crowds in the annual Taunggyi fire balloon festival. Ye Aung THU / AFP

This picture taken on November 4, 2019 shows firefighters at work after a fireworks-laden hot-air balloon ignited before the balloon was at a sufficient height during during the Tazaungdaing Lighting Festival at Taunggyi in Myanmar's northeastern Shan State. Brightly coloured balloons with hundreds of homemade fireworks woven into their frames are sent soaring into the night sky, showering down cascades of sparks onto adoring crowds in the annual Taunggyi fire balloon festival. Ye Aung THU / AFP

This picture taken on November 4, 2019 shows Wa ethnic women smiling during the Tazaungdaing Lighting Festival at Taunggyi in Myanmar's northeastern Shan State. Brightly coloured balloons with hundreds of homemade fireworks woven into their frames are sent soaring into the night sky, showering down cascades of sparks onto adoring crowds in the annual Taunggyi fire balloon festival. Ye Aung THU / AFP
This picture taken on November 5, 2019 shows participants celebrating as fireworks explode after they released a hot-air balloon attached with fireworks during the Tazaungdaing Lighting Festival at Taunggyi in Myanmar's northeastern Shan State. Brightly coloured balloons with hundreds of homemade fireworks woven into their frames are sent soaring into the night sky, showering down cascades of sparks onto adoring crowds in the annual Taunggyi fire balloon festival. Ye Aung THU / AFP
This picture taken on November 4, 2019 shows participants releasing a hot-air balloon attached with fireworks during the Tazaungdaing Lighting Festival at Taunggyi in Myanmar's northeastern Shan State. Brightly coloured balloons with hundreds of homemade fireworks woven into their frames are sent soaring into the night sky, showering down cascades of sparks onto adoring crowds in the annual Taunggyi fire balloon festival. Ye Aung THU / AFP
This picture taken on November 4, 2019 shows participants releasing a hot-air balloon attached with fireworks during the Tazaungdaing Lighting Festival at Taunggyi in Myanmar's northeastern Shan State. Brightly coloured balloons with hundreds of homemade fireworks woven into their frames are sent soaring into the night sky, showering down cascades of sparks onto adoring crowds in the annual Taunggyi fire balloon festival. Ye Aung THU / AFP
This picture taken on November 4, 2019 shows Pa-O ethnic women performing a traditional dance during the opening ceremony of the Tazaungdaing Lighting Festival at Taunggyi in Myanmar's northeastern Shan State. Brightly coloured balloons with hundreds of homemade fireworks woven into their frames are sent soaring into the night sky, showering down cascades of sparks onto adoring crowds in the annual Taunggyi fire balloon festival. Ye Aung THU / AFP
This picture taken on November 5, 2019 shows participants celebrating as fireworks explode after they released a hot-air balloon attached with fireworks during the Tazaungdaing Lighting Festival at Taunggyi in Myanmar's northeastern Shan State. Brightly coloured balloons with hundreds of homemade fireworks woven into their frames are sent soaring into the night sky, showering down cascades of sparks onto adoring crowds in the annual Taunggyi fire balloon festival. Ye Aung THU / AFP
This picture taken on November 5, 2019 shows participants celebrating as fireworks explode after they released a hot-air balloon attached with fireworks during the Tazaungdaing Lighting Festival at Taunggyi in Myanmar's northeastern Shan State. Brightly coloured balloons with hundreds of homemade fireworks woven into their frames are sent soaring into the night sky, showering down cascades of sparks onto adoring crowds in the annual Taunggyi fire balloon festival. Ye Aung THU / AFP
This picture taken on November 6, 2019 shows a hot-air balloon attached with fireworks taking off during the Tazaungdaing Lighting Festival at Taunggyi in Myanmar's northeastern Shan State. Brightly coloured balloons with hundreds of homemade fireworks woven into their frames are sent soaring into the night sky, showering down cascades of sparks onto adoring crowds in the annual Taunggyi fire balloon festival. Ye Aung THU / AFP
This picture taken on November 4, 2019 shows a participant preparing to release a hot-air balloon during the Tazaungdaing Lighting Festival at Taunggyi in Myanmar's northeastern Shan State. Brightly coloured balloons with hundreds of homemade fireworks woven into their frames are sent soaring into the night sky, showering down cascades of sparks onto adoring crowds in the annual Taunggyi fire balloon festival. SAI AUNG MAIN / AFP
This picture taken on November 6, 2019 shows a reveller looking at lanterns attached to a hot-air balloon with fireworks during the Tazaungdaing Lighting Festival at Taunggyi in Myanmar's northeastern Shan State. Brightly coloured balloons with hundreds of homemade fireworks woven into their frames are sent soaring into the night sky, showering down cascades of sparks onto adoring crowds in the annual Taunggyi fire balloon festival. Ye Aung THU / AFP
This picture taken on November 4, 2019 shows firefighters at work after a fireworks-laden hot-air balloon ignited before the balloon was at a sufficient height during during the Tazaungdaing Lighting Festival at Taunggyi in Myanmar's northeastern Shan State. Brightly coloured balloons with hundreds of homemade fireworks woven into their frames are sent soaring into the night sky, showering down cascades of sparks onto adoring crowds in the annual Taunggyi fire balloon festival. Ye Aung THU / AFP
This picture taken on November 4, 2019 shows Wa ethnic women smiling during the Tazaungdaing Lighting Festival at Taunggyi in Myanmar's northeastern Shan State. Brightly coloured balloons with hundreds of homemade fireworks woven into their frames are sent soaring into the night sky, showering down cascades of sparks onto adoring crowds in the annual Taunggyi fire balloon festival. Ye Aung THU / AFP
This picture taken on November 4, 2019 shows Wa ethnic women smiling during the Tazaungdaing Lighting Festival at Taunggyi in Myanmar's northeastern Shan State. Brightly coloured balloons with hundreds of homemade fireworks woven into their frames are sent soaring into the night sky, showering down cascades of sparks onto adoring crowds in the annual Taunggyi fire balloon festival. Ye Aung THU / AFP
This picture taken on November 5, 2019 shows participants celebrating as fireworks explode after they released a hot-air balloon attached with fireworks during the Tazaungdaing Lighting Festival at Taunggyi in Myanmar's northeastern Shan State. Brightly coloured balloons with hundreds of homemade fireworks woven into their frames are sent soaring into the night sky, showering down cascades of sparks onto adoring crowds in the annual Taunggyi fire balloon festival. Ye Aung THU / AFP
This picture taken on November 5, 2019 shows participants celebrating as fireworks explode after they released a hot-air balloon attached with fireworks during the Tazaungdaing Lighting Festival at Taunggyi in Myanmar's northeastern Shan State. Brightly coloured balloons with hundreds of homemade fireworks woven into their frames are sent soaring into the night sky, showering down cascades of sparks onto adoring crowds in the annual Taunggyi fire balloon festival. Ye Aung THU / AFP
This picture taken on November 4, 2019 shows participants releasing a hot-air balloon attached with fireworks during the Tazaungdaing Lighting Festival at Taunggyi in Myanmar's northeastern Shan State. Brightly coloured balloons with hundreds of homemade fireworks woven into their frames are sent soaring into the night sky, showering down cascades of sparks onto adoring crowds in the annual Taunggyi fire balloon festival. Ye Aung THU / AFP
This picture taken on November 4, 2019 shows participants releasing a hot-air balloon attached with fireworks during the Tazaungdaing Lighting Festival at Taunggyi in Myanmar's northeastern Shan State. Brightly coloured balloons with hundreds of homemade fireworks woven into their frames are sent soaring into the night sky, showering down cascades of sparks onto adoring crowds in the annual Taunggyi fire balloon festival. Ye Aung THU / AFP
This picture taken on November 4, 2019 shows participants releasing a hot-air balloon attached with fireworks during the Tazaungdaing Lighting Festival at Taunggyi in Myanmar's northeastern Shan State. Brightly coloured balloons with hundreds of homemade fireworks woven into their frames are sent soaring into the night sky, showering down cascades of sparks onto adoring crowds in the annual Taunggyi fire balloon festival. Ye Aung THU / AFP
This picture taken on November 4, 2019 shows participants releasing a hot-air balloon attached with fireworks during the Tazaungdaing Lighting Festival at Taunggyi in Myanmar's northeastern Shan State. Brightly coloured balloons with hundreds of homemade fireworks woven into their frames are sent soaring into the night sky, showering down cascades of sparks onto adoring crowds in the annual Taunggyi fire balloon festival. Ye Aung THU / AFP
This picture taken on November 4, 2019 shows Pa-O ethnic women performing a traditional dance during the opening ceremony of the Tazaungdaing Lighting Festival at Taunggyi in Myanmar's northeastern Shan State. Brightly coloured balloons with hundreds of homemade fireworks woven into their frames are sent soaring into the night sky, showering down cascades of sparks onto adoring crowds in the annual Taunggyi fire balloon festival. Ye Aung THU / AFP
This picture taken on November 4, 2019 shows Pa-O ethnic women performing a traditional dance during the opening ceremony of the Tazaungdaing Lighting Festival at Taunggyi in Myanmar's northeastern Shan State. Brightly coloured balloons with hundreds of homemade fireworks woven into their frames are sent soaring into the night sky, showering down cascades of sparks onto adoring crowds in the annual Taunggyi fire balloon festival. Ye Aung THU / AFP
This picture taken on November 5, 2019 shows participants celebrating as fireworks explode after they released a hot-air balloon attached with fireworks during the Tazaungdaing Lighting Festival at Taunggyi in Myanmar's northeastern Shan State. Brightly coloured balloons with hundreds of homemade fireworks woven into their frames are sent soaring into the night sky, showering down cascades of sparks onto adoring crowds in the annual Taunggyi fire balloon festival. Ye Aung THU / AFP
This picture taken on November 5, 2019 shows participants celebrating as fireworks explode after they released a hot-air balloon attached with fireworks during the Tazaungdaing Lighting Festival at Taunggyi in Myanmar's northeastern Shan State. Brightly coloured balloons with hundreds of homemade fireworks woven into their frames are sent soaring into the night sky, showering down cascades of sparks onto adoring crowds in the annual Taunggyi fire balloon festival. Ye Aung THU / AFP
This picture taken on November 5, 2019 shows participants celebrating as fireworks explode after they released a hot-air balloon attached with fireworks during the Tazaungdaing Lighting Festival at Taunggyi in Myanmar's northeastern Shan State. Brightly coloured balloons with hundreds of homemade fireworks woven into their frames are sent soaring into the night sky, showering down cascades of sparks onto adoring crowds in the annual Taunggyi fire balloon festival. Ye Aung THU / AFP
This picture taken on November 5, 2019 shows participants celebrating as fireworks explode after they released a hot-air balloon attached with fireworks during the Tazaungdaing Lighting Festival at Taunggyi in Myanmar's northeastern Shan State. Brightly coloured balloons with hundreds of homemade fireworks woven into their frames are sent soaring into the night sky, showering down cascades of sparks onto adoring crowds in the annual Taunggyi fire balloon festival. Ye Aung THU / AFP
This picture taken on November 6, 2019 shows a hot-air balloon attached with fireworks taking off during the Tazaungdaing Lighting Festival at Taunggyi in Myanmar's northeastern Shan State. Brightly coloured balloons with hundreds of homemade fireworks woven into their frames are sent soaring into the night sky, showering down cascades of sparks onto adoring crowds in the annual Taunggyi fire balloon festival. Ye Aung THU / AFP
This picture taken on November 6, 2019 shows a hot-air balloon attached with fireworks taking off during the Tazaungdaing Lighting Festival at Taunggyi in Myanmar's northeastern Shan State. Brightly coloured balloons with hundreds of homemade fireworks woven into their frames are sent soaring into the night sky, showering down cascades of sparks onto adoring crowds in the annual Taunggyi fire balloon festival. Ye Aung THU / AFP
This picture taken on November 4, 2019 shows a participant preparing to release a hot-air balloon during the Tazaungdaing Lighting Festival at Taunggyi in Myanmar's northeastern Shan State. Brightly coloured balloons with hundreds of homemade fireworks woven into their frames are sent soaring into the night sky, showering down cascades of sparks onto adoring crowds in the annual Taunggyi fire balloon festival. SAI AUNG MAIN / AFP
This picture taken on November 4, 2019 shows a participant preparing to release a hot-air balloon during the Tazaungdaing Lighting Festival at Taunggyi in Myanmar's northeastern Shan State. Brightly coloured balloons with hundreds of homemade fireworks woven into their frames are sent soaring into the night sky, showering down cascades of sparks onto adoring crowds in the annual Taunggyi fire balloon festival. SAI AUNG MAIN / AFP
This picture taken on November 6, 2019 shows a reveller looking at lanterns attached to a hot-air balloon with fireworks during the Tazaungdaing Lighting Festival at Taunggyi in Myanmar's northeastern Shan State. Brightly coloured balloons with hundreds of homemade fireworks woven into their frames are sent soaring into the night sky, showering down cascades of sparks onto adoring crowds in the annual Taunggyi fire balloon festival. Ye Aung THU / AFP
This picture taken on November 6, 2019 shows a reveller looking at lanterns attached to a hot-air balloon with fireworks during the Tazaungdaing Lighting Festival at Taunggyi in Myanmar's northeastern Shan State. Brightly coloured balloons with hundreds of homemade fireworks woven into their frames are sent soaring into the night sky, showering down cascades of sparks onto adoring crowds in the annual Taunggyi fire balloon festival. Ye Aung THU / AFP
This picture taken on November 4, 2019 shows firefighters at work after a fireworks-laden hot-air balloon ignited before the balloon was at a sufficient height during during the Tazaungdaing Lighting Festival at Taunggyi in Myanmar's northeastern Shan State. Brightly coloured balloons with hundreds of homemade fireworks woven into their frames are sent soaring into the night sky, showering down cascades of sparks onto adoring crowds in the annual Taunggyi fire balloon festival. Ye Aung THU / AFP
This picture taken on November 4, 2019 shows firefighters at work after a fireworks-laden hot-air balloon ignited before the balloon was at a sufficient height during during the Tazaungdaing Lighting Festival at Taunggyi in Myanmar's northeastern Shan State. Brightly coloured balloons with hundreds of homemade fireworks woven into their frames are sent soaring into the night sky, showering down cascades of sparks onto adoring crowds in the annual Taunggyi fire balloon festival. Ye Aung THU / AFP