Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

Summer has ended for many parts of the world but not for the city of Albuquerque, New Mexico. The fresh wind still blows and it is that time of the year to host the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. Each fall, pilots, photographers, balloon enthusiasts and spectators from all over the world come to the The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta – the world’s largest hot air ballooning event. Why Albuquerque? No, not because of Walter White. It’s because the city has some great ballooning requirements. Early October brings cool morning and evening temperatures in Albuquerque, which is just right for a balloon launch. The Albuquerque Balloon Festival celebrates its 42nd anniversary this year. So if you’re in the area and looking for things to do in Albuquerque, this is one event not to miss.

Why Join Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta?

Albuquerque International Balloon Festival

Albuquerque International Balloon Festival (cc) Photo By Larry and Linda

There are quite a few unique festival around the world. This one is too. The balloon fiesta in Albuquerque is filled with a whoosh and a swirl, inflate and deflate, rise and launch towards the sky. The nine-day Albuquerque event will feature events, entertainment, fireworks, balloon races, hot air balloon rides and of course the balloons galore giving spectators a fantastic show. May it be your first time watching the balloon festival in Albuquerque or your 10th time, there is truly nothing like it anywhere else in the world. No wonder Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta said to be the world’s most photographed event.

Balloon Fiesta In Albuquerque

Early morning at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta | (cc) Photo By Scott Williams

In the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, you will witness many hundreds of balloons lift off into the morning sky. Balloons from all over the world rise together in a harmonious lift off. The sight of hundreds of balloons in every color, size and shape take over the sky is amazing. Special shape balloons like come alive bumble bees, flowers and dinosaurs are launched in an event called the ‘special shape rodeos‘. To see these balloons in the sky is as breathtaking for first-time visitors as it is for the one who has seen it many times. In the evening the fun doesn’t end as the propane burners inflate the balloons against a dark sky. They may seem like fireflies in the sky.

Special Shape Rodeo Balloons-Albuquerque

Special Shape Rodeo Balloons | (cc) Photo By Linda Rockwell

The ‘balloon pilots’ of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta enjoy the competitions held in the sky. During the weekdays of this event, the balloon pilots compete in events that are a lot harder than they look. In a event called ‘key grab‘ pilots must launch at least one mile away from the fields. Then fly back, avoiding collisions with hundreds of other balloons and navigate their hot air balloon to the precise location where a envelope is attached to a very tall pole. The envelope holds the keys to a new car, and the first one to grab it wins! Don’t you feel like joining the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta now?

ABQ Balloon Fiesta At Night

ABQ Balloon Fiesta At Night | (cc) Photo By Linda Rockwell

The most exciting part for the visitors of this famous ABQ balloon festival is, that they are allowed to walk amongst the balloons as they inflate on the launch field each morning. Spectators are welcome to ask questions and meet the balloon pilots. Who knows, you might even get asked to help out as a crew member with the inflation process! Once all is set and when it’s time for the lift off they will launch zebras – got your attention? Well not actual zebras but the traffic directors who are dressed in black and white outfits. The launch of the ‘zebras’ will clear a path in the crowd for each balloon to take off.

When Is Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta | (cc) Photo By Jay Johnson

Nine days from October 5th to the 13th, 2013 you will be surrounded by hundreds if not thousands of colorful balloons that will float above the city each morning as dawn breaks over the Sandia Mountains.

How About Some Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta Facts?

Most Interesting Facts About Albuquerque Balloon Festival

  • The Albuquerque Balloon Festival is the world’s premier international ballooning event
  • It happens in Albuquerque because the city meet some great ballooning requirements
  • The Balloon Fiesta has a Facebook page with over 45,000 followers
  • Mass ascensions of about 700 balloons take about two hours
  • The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is the most photographed event on the planet
  • Balloon festival’s launch fields total the size of 56 football fields
  • Balloon fiesta park is over 360 acres, and the launch field is 78 acres
  • The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta has as many or more visitors annually than the population of Albuquerque itself

What’s New For This Year’s ABQ Balloon Festival?

For 2013, The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta has added a Music Festival. The festival take place on Saturday, October 12, featuring four separate performances after the morning mass ascension and before the evening night glow. The headliner will be country music star Darius RuckerBob Farrell, Derryl Perry from Nashville and one other artist yet to be announced.

Where Is Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta Held?

The Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque launches from 5000, Balloon Fiesta Parkway NE. Driving to the park is easy because signs point the way. From I-25 north or south, both the Alameda and the Tramway exits will get you there.

What To Bring To The Balloon Fiesta In Albuquerque?

  • Dress in layers for mass ascension. The early morning air is chilly but once the sun rises, it becomes quite warm
  • Bring a stroller or wagon for young children
  • Bring a water bottle
  • Food can be purchased at the Fiesta, but prepacked snacks for kids cuts down on waiting in lines
  • Vendors are on hand for an assortment of reasons. There are balloon fiesta memorabilia pieces, funny hats, arts and crafts and more
  • Bring a camera with lots of memory. There will be more photo ops packed into one morning than you can imagine
  • Bring cash. Although there are ATM’s at the park, the fees are high

How Much Is Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta Admission?

Adults (Over 12 years of age): $8
Children: Children 12 and under are admitted free

Ticket can be purchased online from

Nearly 750,000 visitors attend the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta each year. So make sure you plan early to join the fun. Be sure to book a hotel in advance, if you’re coming from a far. Alternatively, you can arrange to bring an RV and camp at the grounds (more fun). Don’t miss the chance to experience this one-of-a-kind event. There really aren’t any hot air balloon festivals like the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta!

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25 Responses to “Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta”

  1. Sophie says:

    What a fabulous festival. I’d love to ride in one of these balloons – and even see the spectacle from below would be fun. Too late for this year, I see. Maybe next…
    Sophie recently posted..Coxen’s HoleMy Profile

  2. Mette says:

    I love a colourful crowd – even though they must be quite noisy.

  3. Ian Faulds says:

    Balloon festivals are always a great time, especially the mass ascensions and dawn patrol (early morning balloons that light up the dark sky). Growing up in Reno I got to experience the Great Reno Balloon Races every year, but that event has just over 100 balloons (ONLY), not 700! I can only imagine the grandeur that is Albuquerque during this week. I’d want to view from the top of the Sandia Range personally.


    Ian Faulds
    Ian Faulds recently posted..On desktop backgrounds…My Profile

  4. Soooo beautiful! I would love to go! And better yet, I would love to ride on one of those balloons!
    Aleah | recently posted..Where2Next Hostel: Serenity Amidst the Chaos of ManilaMy Profile

  5. Agness says:

    I totally agree with Lisa, the balloons look so beautiful, so colorful! This is one of my dreams I would like to make come true soon – to have a balloon ride. The sky looks amazing!
    Agness recently posted..Exploring The West Coast Of IrelandMy Profile

  6. The balloons are so incredibly beautiful! I think I would be too afraid to ever actually ride in a hot air balloon but I would love to attend a festival like this just to see all the balloons.
    Lisa Goodmurphy recently posted..A Stroll Through the Halifax Public GardensMy Profile

  7. Charu says:

    I love balloon festivals! I went to one over the summer in Solberg, NJ
    Charu recently posted..Things to Do With the Family on Your Day OffMy Profile

  8. Albuquerque international balloon fiesta is just amazing. I wish I could join the fiesta.
    Raymond Waruhari recently posted..The Best of Birding Safaris in KenyaMy Profile

  9. Hi Salika, I’ve been wanting to go to this festival! This post is probably my cue that I should do it next year? Love your lovely photo collection. Can’t wait to photograph the event myself.
    Marisol@TravelingSolemates recently posted..The Journey into Bhutan, the Last Shangri-LaMy Profile

  10. This sounds like a really fun event. I can see why it’s the most photographed event in the world. And I really love Albuquerque – it’s so relaxing there!
    Dana Carmel @ Time Travel Plans recently posted..Capture the Colour 2013 Photo CompetitionMy Profile

  11. It has been a travel dream to go to the ABQ balloon festival. I can just imagine all the festivities and seeing all those balloons up in the air. One of these days I just need to take my kids out of school and go :) Thanks for the inspiration.
    Mary {The World Is A Book} recently posted..All Aboard the London EyeMy Profile