Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta! Get lost in the clouds and wonder!
With a sparkle and a surge, the balloons expand, rise and shoot towards the heaven. Whether it’s your time at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta or your 40th, there’s nothing as glorious anywhere else in the world.
Nine days of events, entertainment, competition and obviously, balloons, all in one place. The citizens of Albuquerque are lucky enough to see it every year, but it’s worth the trip to New Mexico for outsiders to get in on the action.
It’s the biggest balloon event in the world with hundred of balloons rising into the air in two waves. As it is with every trip, a little bit of planning goes a long way.
Dates: Annually from late September through to early October, lasting for nine whole days. This year it’s from October 5th to October 13th.
Location: 4401, Almeda Boulevard NE, Albuquerque, New Mexico, United States
Entrance Fee: $8 for guests 13 years or older. Free for children 12 years old and younger. A pack day pass can be purchased at a discounted rate of $35. The rides have separate ticket prices.
Daily Timings: 5.30am until the last event of the day that begins at 8.00pm.
Cost of Parking: $10 per entry, but you can get the $50 all event pass no matter how many times you come and go.
Smoking: Not allowed. There are designated areas reserved for smokers.
Prior reservation: You can buy tickets on the spot, but purchasing them in advance will make things easier.
In and Around the Festival
The Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta is not only the biggest, but also the most unique. One of it’s most defining features is it’s excellent safety record. This implies that you can actually walk among the balloons and talk to pilots. It’s absolutely safe for you and your family!
The fiesta’s field is huge, the size of 56 football fields, even so it’s best to come early to grab a good seat for the show. Be sure to bring your camera along because the festival is also one of the most photographed events in the world.
The balloons at the fest are of every size and shape possible. During the mass ascension you get to see the balloons rise into the sky but also be sure to catch them in the evening as they glow in the dark while on the ground.
It’s not just an empty ground with balloons but more of a carnival, with rides, exhibits and performances! There’s a Balloon Discovery Tent especially for the kids where they can climb into a balloon basket and pretend that they’re in flight!
There’s plenty of food from every cuisine around the world so you let your taste buds decide what they’d like to have each evening. From healthy choices to junk food, the wide array of food will constantly leave you wanting more! Having a breakfast burrito is tradition, whether it’s actually for breakfast or for dinner.
If you’d like, even cocktails are provided daily by the Chaser’s Club except on Sunday mornings. You can easily grab a table and watch the fireworks from there.
Dawn Patrol: These balloons take flight before the mass ascension to get an idea of wind speeds and direction at various altitudes. The choreographed display of color is worth getting up in the wee hours of the morning. The balloons dance to the music as they set off for the skies.
Mass Ascensions: This the main event of the whole festival. On both weekends, there is a different set of balloons taking off at 7.15am. The balloons take off in two different waves and whole process can take up to two hours. There’s only one mid-week ascension, called the Flight of Nations. Each participating country sends their pilot on balloon and the each balloon takes off with the pilots waving their nation’s flag along with their national anthem playing in the background.
America’s Challenge: Since 1995, every year there’s a race to see which balloon can go the greatest distance. Any country can participate and they can enter as many balloons as they want. This is race is known for constantly breaking distance records. It’s one of the most prestigious ballooning events in the world.
After Glow Show: Each evening, just as the sun sets, all the balloons are inflated and tied down. The burners are then turned on, transforming the sky into a kaleidoscope of hues blending together and forming synchronized patterns.
After Glow Fireworks: After the sun finally sets, the balloons are already dancing but what makes it even more magnificent, is the fireworks show that follows. You can cozy up in a blanket on the field and watch as the sky lights up before your eyes.
The amazing thing about the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta is that they’re partnered up with the hotels in the area to give special rates to the attendees. You can hop on over to the official site to check the discounted prices and available hotels.
If you’re traveling by RV, the festival has special spots reserved for you to park your vehicle but you should make your reservations early to make sure you have a space. They have different sites depending on your needs.
Tips for your Trip
Seeing the balloons is a great experience, whether it’s early in the morning or late into the evening. Albuquerque is a desert, so the temperature varies greatly from night to day. You’ll want to bring lots of layers for when it’s cool early in the morning or for when the sun sets. During the day it’s best to protect yourself from the sun by carrying some sun screen and sun glasses.
For the most part of the day you’ll be lounging on the fields, so bring a blanket is probably a good idea so that you’re comfortable on the ground. The festivals rules and regulations state that you shouldn’t carry lawn chairs but it’s a lax rule as long as you’re not a nuisance.
Be sure to carry your own water bottle to save some money. You can re-fill it any time rather than having to buy new bottles every time you get thirsty. If you’re traveling with kids, bring a stroller because there’s a lot of walking involved. You might even want to pack a lunch because though there’s food available at the fiesta, the lines can become really long.
Carrying a camera is very good idea because with every event, there will be photo opportunities. Be sure that it’s funny charged to last the whole day and has plenty of memory space. Arrive early to each event to get the best seats because each event can have over 100,000 people attending.
All in all, have a fun time and maybe even pick up some memorabilia to take back home!