The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta crowds the sky with hot air balloons in every color and shape imaginable for nine days in October. The world’s largest balloon festival takes place at Albuquerque’s Balloon Fiesta Park.
Why Get Up at Dawn for Balloon Fiesta?
Each day of the fiesta begins with a Dawn Patrol launch of a few balloons that report back on flying conditions for the mass ascension. Skydivers float down to the launch site. The Morning Glow signals daybreak, when balloons are inflated, but not launched, to glow as the sunrise colors the sky. The major, mind-blowing event of the fiesta transpires during the choreographed Mass Ascension, as waves of hundreds of balloons inflate, launch, and float up, up, and away into the dawn light.
Be Part of Balloon Fiesta
Become a participant in the balloon fiesta by volunteering on a balloon crew or book a flight during the fiesta with one of the organizations that provides that adventure. A chase crew helps lay out, inflate, and launch a balloon and then jumps into the chase vehicle to follow it to wherever it comes to ground. It usually takes most of the morning and some of the afternoon for this wild chase.
When Balloons Light up the Night Sky
Not all the ballooning events occur at dawn. Many evenings are lit by the Twinkle Twinkle Glow, where hundreds of balloons are inflated in the darkness, like gigantic, glowing lanterns in the night. This is accompanied by a fiery descent of Skydivers floating down to the launch and Afterglow Fireworks.
What is a Glowdeo?
The most popular flight events are the two days of the Special Shapes Rodeo, and the two evening balloon glows called the Special Shapes Glowdeo. These two days are fiesta favorites as the sky fills with more than a hundred fantastical creatures, spaceships and aliens, clowns and cartoon characters, and even a chile ristra and flying cactus.
For many pilots and their crews, the challenge of competition flying and the prizes gets their adrenaline going. For several days, the competitors are set competitive tasks, such as seeing who can drop a marker closest to a marked spot on the ground. The competitors have the chance of winning thousands of dollars in prize money.
What is the America’s Challenge Gas Balloon Race?
The America’s Challenge Gas Balloon Race, which has been held during the fiesta since 1995, is one of the world’s two premier distance races for gas balloons. The competition is simple: The team that travels the farthest distance wins.
Remote Control Balloons
Fiestas de Los Globitos Balloon Exhibition features remote control model hot air balloon flights. They also put on an evening night glow. These miniature jewels are quarter scale hot air balloons, which operate using propane burners just like the full-size balloons.
…But Wait, There’s More for Everyone
The Chainsaw Carving Invitational, which features professional carvers from all over the United States, is held each year at the fiesta, After the competition, many of these wooden masterpieces are auctioned to raise funds for the Albuquerque Area Firefighters Random Acts of Kindness charity, which provides necessary items to victims of catastrophic events.
Don’t miss musical and cultural entertainment from strolling performers to the Music Fiesta to Native and Hispanic dance performances at various locations on the Main Street of the fiesta.
Cruise over to the Fiesta of Wheels Car Show. Hundreds of classic, vintage, and special interest vehicles add more color and style to the fiesta.
Visit the fiesta’s Main Street where food vendors offer hunger-busting fare and booths offering art, crafts, and fiesta souvenirs. The smell of chiles and fried foods, coffee and hot chocolate compete with dust and propane to perfume the air.
If you collect ballooning pins or wish to start collecting pins, head for the Balloon Fiesta Pin Trading tent.
Glamping in safari tents at the fiesta park extends the fiesta experience beyond dusk. From the tent village, enjoy spectacular views of the balloons flying high against a background of the Sandia Mountains.
Balloon Fiesta Park is located at 5000 Balloon Fiesta Pkwy., and there are several parking lots with courtesy shuttles available. You can also ride your bike to the fiesta and take advantage of the free bicycle valet service. Another great option is taking the Rail Runner Express to the Los Ranchos/Journal Center Station. The fiesta offers a reservation-only weekend park and ride service to pick you up from the station and take you to the park. You can also take advantage of Thursday through Sunday park and ride services at Coronado Center, Cottonwood Mall, and Hoffmantown Church. Your prepaid ticket includes admission to the Balloon Fiesta.