What to do during the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

INSIDE : Check out the best events and what are MUST DO’s during the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta! The world’s biggest Hot Air Balloon Event.  It is so much fun for kids and adults alike!

Hot Air Balloon Activities

Every October, people from around the world flock to Albuquerque, New Mexico for the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.  It has grown to become the largest balloon event in the world.  The Balloon Fiesta attracts hundreds of thousands of guests to enjoy  a 9 day long celebration of color and hot air balloon excitement.  

Having lived in Albuquerque for over twelve years now, this is an event that you never tire of!! Today I will be sharing What to do during Albuquerque’s Balloon Fiesta because it’s an event that visitors and locals love!

What is the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta?

In 1972, there were said to be only 13 balloons that gathered in Albuquerque, however it has now grown to be the largest hot air balloon event in the world.  And believe me when I say, it really is exceedingly impressive.

Every year when we are getting close to the balloon fiesta… I can not contain myself and am literally screaming right along with my kids in pure excitement.  It is a sight to behold and like no other.

Balloon Fiesta Pink Elephant Balloon

As one of the most photographed event on earth during the second week of October, people from around the globe come to enjoy 9 full days of hot air balloon activities.  There are events from about 5am to well beyond sunset.  

Some of the main big events include the mass ascension (hundreds of balloons taking off during the same basic time period), a gas balloon race, balloon glows (these are my favorite), afternoon balloon competitions, and so much more!

What are some Albuquerque Hot Air Balloon Fiesta Tips?

My tips to people from out of town are always the same.  Go earlier than you think if you are heading to the Balloon Fiesta Park.  There are always reports of people sitting in traffic for two hours and missing the entire Mass Ascention because it gets so crowded on the streets trying to get into the park, too.  I’ve never left my house at 430am, but that time is often mentioned to help miss the morning rush.

If it is not critical for you to be AT the Balloon Fiesta Park, I often take my kids to nearby parks to watch the balloons landing (See the below grassy image for an example of park viewing).  You can beat the droves of traffic this way, still have 30 – 60 balloons overhead and landing all around you.  

We even are able still to collect tons of the Balloon Trading cards while at local parks.  This is the route we typically take for viewing the balloons in a less congested space.  And it is still VERY exciting.

Albuquerque Balloons

What are a few of the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta show stopping moments?

This year, I plan to take a few time lapse videos of my own, but until then you absolutely must check out this video I found on Youtube… it’s such a fun event and this captures it so well.

What are the Main Albuquerque Hot Air Balloon Fiesta Events?

Dawn Patrol Show

This is where at least one hot air balloon (often a handful) will take off before sunrise.  They fly around to check on the weather conditions and visibility of landing conditions. It is both practical as well as a tradition and generally takes place around 6:00am.

Balloon Fiesta Museum

Mass Ascension

This is where hundreds of balloons all launch in the same morning, during about a 1.5 to 2 hour period. They launch in two waves so that for almost 2 hours there will be balloons being set up, inflated, and launched from the field.

Visitors can walk around the launch field to see the balloons being setup and get different views as the balloons launch.  This is by far the biggest wow moment of the Balloon Fiesta simply due to the huge mass of balloons all gathered and taking off!   This typically starts around 7:00am.

Albuquerque Balloons

Gas Balloon Race

 This long-distance race starts from the Balloon Fiesta Park where pilots in special designed gas balloons compete to see who can go the furthest distance without coming down.

Pilots could spend up to four days in their balloons and can go as far as the East Coast or even Canada.  We always love hearing days after this competition begins, where the balloons end up landing!

Evening Balloon Glows

Although I love all aspects of the Balloon Fiesta, the evenings glows are probably my favorite because it looks absolutely magical to be dark outside and have all the balloons glowing.  Pilots keep their balloons tied down to the ground and then inflate their hot air balloons.  

Once dark, the pilots will periodically ignite their propane burners so that the balloons light up and glow. They do synchronized burns, where all the balloons will light up at once and even sometimes ignite their burners to music.  It’s just the most lovely thing you’ve ever seen!

Colorful Balloons

Special Shape Balloon Events

In addition to the more traditional teardrop shaped balloons, there are tons of special shaped balloons – which are SUCH fun!!  These balloons can be shaped as almost anything.  You see everything from cartoon characters, Pepsi bottles, kissing Bees, Noah’s Arc, Star Wars characters, animals, hearts, people, etc.

These are popular events for visitors and locals, as it is fun to see all your old favorites and check out the new ones.  Every year, we are amazed at the new crazy shaped balloons that come to the park!

 Flying Competitions

After the main morning balloon events, there are hot air balloon flying competitions.  Balloon pilots test their skills as they compete doing tasks against other balloonists. Events can sometimes include fly-in tasks where they must drop something on a specific target and events where they must toss or grab rings from various poles.

Inside a Balloon

Hopefully by now, you have decided to drop everything and get yourself to the next Balloon Fiesta!  And if you are looking for even more info and a detailed schedule of each days exact events, you can check the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta website.

Balloon Fiesta

Looking for more Albuquerque fun?  You have to check out my favorite local shop, Must See retail shop – Spur Line Supply Co.

Looking for more fun spots I’ve traveled?  You might enjoy these.

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