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Last updated July 17th 2019.

The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is an annual pageant held the first week of October every year since 1972. From it’s seminal beginnings it has grown into the world’s largest hot air balloon festival and draws thousands of international spectators who marvel at this colourful aerial spectacle. Adding to it’s accolades it also holds the esteemed distinction as the most photographed event in the world!

Hot air balloons in silhouette but with one glowing at the break of dawn at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta with Sandia Mountains in background.

Silhouettes of hot air balloons at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.

The fiesta lasts for 9 days, with morning sessions daily and evening sessions as scheduled. If you need help navigating the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta this guide walks you through everything you need to know for completing this bucket list item.

Navigating the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta Includes:

  • Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta Tips
  • Directions to Balloon Fiesta Park
  • General Admission Ticket Prices
  • Parking at Balloon Fiesta
  • Parking Alternative: Park and Ride to Balloon Fiesta Park
  • Bike Valet at Balloon Fiesta Park
  • Pet Protocol at Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta
  • Is Balloon Fiesta Park Handicap Accessible?
  • RV Parking/Camping at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta
  • Glamping at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta
  • Food at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta
  • Is Smoking Allowed In Balloon Fiesta Park?
  • Dawn Patrol
  • Mass Ascension
  • Morning Session Versus Evening Session
  • Special Shape Rodeo
  • Special Shape Glowdeo
  • Balloon Glows
  • Hot Air Balloon Rides at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta
  • Can I Volunteer at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta?

Along with the pertinent facts, I also include some fun trivia and a basic explanation of the Albuquerque box – the unusual weather phenomena that creates the ideal conditions for hot air ballooning.

For a complete schedule of events at this year’s Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta make sure you visit the official website online.


Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta Tips

  • Get an early start either for the morning session or the evening session – traffic gets incredibly heavy around Balloon Fiesta Park. Personally we found the parking situation very well organised with traffic flowing quite fluidly. However, we arrived at the Park at 4:30 am. Get there early, you could easily miss events due to being late.
  • Parking is cash only. Bring cash! There are ATM’s throughout Balloon Fiesta Park, but you’ll need cash to park.
  • Bundle up, even though this is the desert. Daytime temperatures can be quite toasty, but radiational cooling during the night drops those temperatures rather quickly.
  • Wear comfortable shoes. The launch field of Balloon Fiesta park  spreads out over 80 acres, equivalent to 54 football fields side by side. Therefore that means a lot of walking!
  • Don’t forget your binoculars.
  • Bring a hat, sunscreen and sunglasses.
  • Make sure to charge you camera! This is the world’s most photographed event for a reason!
  • Each session operates under cover of darkness at some stage, a torch (flashlight) is especially handy to have.
  • You can bring blankets and deck chairs, just remember you will have to haul them around with you.

Location/Directions to Balloon Fiesta Park

There are 2 entrances to Balloon Fiesta Park, one on the Northern end and one on the Southern end.

People, marquees, trucks and hot air balloons at Balloon Fiesta Park Albuquerque, New Mexico
Balloon Fiesta Park

The Northern gate is located at 5500 Balloon Fiesta Parkway, Albuquerque. To access this gate: from Interstate 25 take exit 234, Roy-Tramway South to Balloon Fiesta Parkway.

The Southern gate is located at 9401 Balloon Museum Dr. NE, Albuquerque: from Interstate 25 take exit 233, Alameda Road West to Balloon Museum Drive. The Southern gate is conveniently located near the Anderson-Abruzzo International Balloon Museum, RV parking and the Balloon Fiesta Event Centre.


General Admission Ticket Prices:

  • $10 per adult age 13 and older
  • Free for children age 12 and under
  • Planning on attending more than one session and want to save a little money? You can pre-purchase a pack of 5 tickets for $45.
  • Tickets are non-refundable, however your ticket may be used as a raincheck if an event is cancelled due to inclement weather.
  • Tickets can be purchased in advance online at www.balloonfiesta.com. All tickets purchased online include a convenience fee.
  • Alternatively you can purchase tickets in advance at the Balloon Fiesta Gift Shop located at 4401 Alameda NE, Albuquerque. Monday – Friday 9:00 am – 5:00 pm or by calling 1 855 725 1824
  • Otherwise just buy your Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta ticket at the gate.

Admission is $10 per person per session, morning or evening. Yes that’s right, even though there may be a morning and an evening session your ticket is only good for one session.


Parking at Balloon Fiesta

Parking is $15 per vehicle (cash only). No matter which session you plan on going to GET THERE EARLY, I cannot stress this enough. You may miss out on events whilst you drive around trying to find a parking spot.

A clear blue sky filled with colourful hot air balloons at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta


Parking Alternative: Park and Ride to Balloon Fiesta Park

Purchasing a park and ride ticket involves parking at a remote location and being bussed to the fiesta. The ticket covers admission to the fiesta for one session and the round trip bus-ride.

Purchasing Park and Ride Tickets

  • $15 per adult (age 13-61)
  • $12 per senior (62 and older)
  • $7 per child (age 6-12)
  • Free for children (5 and under)
  • Park and ride tickets must be purchased in advance online at www.balloonfiesta.com. A convenience fee will be added onto all tickets purchased online.
  • Alternatively, purchase park and ride tickets in advance at the Balloon Fiesta Gift Shop located at 4401 Alameda NE, Albuquerque. Monday – Friday 9:00 am – 5:00 pm or by calling 1 855 725 1824.
  • You cannot purchase tickets at the park and ride remote lots during the Balloon Fiesta. Therefore tickets must be purchased in advance.

Park and Ride Remote Locations

East-side Location:

  • Coronado Mall (Southwest corner) – 6600 Menaul Blvd NE, Albuquerque.
  • Hoffmantown Church; 8888 Harper NE; Albuquerque. Park in the northeast parking lot only

West-side Location:

  • Cottonwood Mall – 10000 Coors Bypass NW, Albuquerque.
  • Intel (South Parking Lot) – 1600 Rio Rancho Blvd. SE, Rio Rancho.

Note:

  • Unfortunately there is no park and ride bus service on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday the week of the Balloon Festival.
  • There are 2 check in times at all park and ride remote locations for all Morning Sessions: 4:00 am and 5:30 am
  • There are 2 check in times at all park and ride remote locations for all Evening Sessions: 3:00 pm and 4:30 pm

What Happens if it Rains (Park and Ride)?

If a session is cancelled due to bad weather, keep your ticket to the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta. It is good for a raincheck. However if your ticket is part of a park and ride combo, you will have to purchase another bus only ticket online.

The official balloon fiesta website provides the most comprehensive information on everything related to the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. For more information call (505) 821 1000.


Bike Valet at Balloon Fiesta Park

If you are feeling especially energetic you can ride your bike to the Balloon Festival. An official bike valet service manned by volunteers can be found just north of the Anderson Abruzzo International Balloon Museum. This is a free service providing cyclists with a secure location to stash their bikes whilst they enjoy the festival. Not only does this help alleviate vehicular traffic, it also promotes a healthy way of getting to and from the Balloon Fiesta.

Bike Valet Hours

  • Morning Sessions: 4:30 am – 10:30 am
  • Evening Sessions: 4:30 pm – 9:00 pm
  • October 12th Music Fiesta: 11:00 am – 4:30 pm

You will be cycling in the dark, do not forget:

  • Reflectors on your bike
  • Headlight
  • Taillight
  • Helmet

Pet Protocol at Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

The only animals permitted at Balloon Fiesta Park are ADA service animals. Per NMSA 1978, Section 28-11-6, emotional support animals are not classified as service animals.


Is Balloon Fiesta Park Handicap Accessible?

  • Yes. There is a handicapped designated paved parking area by the entrance gates. Parking is $15 per vehicle per session.
  • Courtesy shuttles troll the park, picking up and dropping off passengers to some parking lots.
  • Wheelchairs and mobility scooters are for rent on site. In addition, buggies (strollers) and wagons can be rented for kids. These rentals are found by the information booths, but equipment is limited. Therefore it is best to bring your own.
  • Call ahead to reserve a mobility scooter (262) 677 2696 or go online for morning session reservations and evening session reservations.

RV Parking/Camping at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

There are a variety of RV sites available at the Balloon Festival, as well as 10 tent sites. However the prevailing caveat states these spots get booked out way in advance. Each year, 9 days after the Balloon Festival ends, RV reservations open for the following year.

The price per night depends upon the RV site you reserve. In the event of having to pay for incidentals at the RV sites, only cheques and credit cards are accepted. For a complete guide to RV camping and tent camping including prices, cancellation policy, a map of the grounds and any and all other RV related questions at the Balloon Fiesta consult the official website.

Basic RV Parking Overview

  • Reservations are online only. Drive-ups are not accepted.
  • There is a 3 night minimum stay, these nights must be consecutive.
  • RV site size: 19′ wide x 50′ long.
  • All RV parking is Rally Style – first come, first served.
  • Travelling with friends in separate RVs? Arrive together if you want to be parked next to each other.
  • Water is available at Standard/Premium lot (South RV lot). An on site 3rd party vendor provides refills at a cost – cash only.
  • No dump station, instead there is an on site 3rd party vendor providing pumping. $25 fee per pumping – cash only.
  • No showers on site.
  • Portable toilets are on site.
  • Campfires/bonfires are strictly prohibited.
  • Pets are allowed in the RV park BUT they are not permitted in Balloon Fiesta Park. See Pet Protocol above.
  • Courtesy shuttle buses run between the RV park and Balloon Fiesta park when there are events in progress.

Basic Tent Camping Overview

  • Reservations are online only. Drive-ups are not accepted.
  • There is a 3 night minimum stay, these nights must be consecutive.
  • Maximum tent camping size: 10′ x 20′.
  • There are 10 tent sites.
  • Tent sites are located in the VIP West lot. Tents are in their own section, but there are RVs in this lot too, just in a separate section.
  • Water is available at Standard/Premium lot (South RV lot). An on site 3rd party vendor provides refills at a cost – cash only.
  • No showers on site.
  • Portable toilets are on site.
  • Campfires/bonfires are strictly prohibited.
  • Pets are allowed in the RV park BUT they are not permitted in Balloon Fiesta Park. See Pet Protocol above.
  • Courtesy shuttle buses run between the RV park and Balloon Fiesta park when there are events in progress.

Glamping at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

One of the more recent introductions to the  Balloon Fiesta is that of glamping. A safari tent village has been established over the last couple of years providing an exclusive experience for those who wish to step up their camping game.

Exclusivity does come at a price! The cost of glamping at the Balloon Festival is $1,500 for 3 nights for 1-2 people. All glamping tents are sold out for 2019.

Glamping Overview

  • $1,500 for 3 nights for 1-2 people.
  • Each additional night is $500.
  • Each additional guest is $100 per person/per night. 4 guests maximum per tent.
  • There is a 3 night night minimum stay, these nights must be consecutive.
  • Glamping does NOT include access to the Music Fiesta – these tickets must be purchased separately.

Glamping Benefits

  • Prime parking.
  • Walking distance to the launch field.
  • Admission to all sessions during your stay.
  • Access to shower and toilet trailers.
  • A recreational area with BBQs, lounge chairs and games.
  • Welcome gift.
  • Choice of queen bed or 2 single beds per tent.
  • Heater and fridge.

The glamping section of the official website includes photos and a comprehensive guide to this ultimate treat.


Food at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

For those of you who are ready to have all of your gastronomic desires catered to in the wee hours of the morning, the midway of concession stands will assuage your hunger pangs. Here you will find stalls selling everything from smoked turkey legs to alligator and everything in between.

Food stalls in the midway pre-dawn with people queueing at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta New Mexico

You are permitted to bring your own food and drink into Balloon Fiesta Park, however glass and alcohol are not permitted. Bags and coolers are subject to search.


Is Smoking Allowed In Balloon Fiesta Park?

It should go without saying but, there is absolutely no smoking allowed anywhere in the park.


Dawn Patrol

Every morning of the Balloon Fiesta, weather permitting, the Dawn Patrol are the first to take to the skies. This group of 12 pre-dawn balloonists report vital weather conditions back to the balloonists preparing for take-off on the ground. On the mornings of Mass Ascensions they perform the Dawn Patrol Show executing a choreographed glow show synchronised to music.

A hot air balloon glowing against a dark sky at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta New Mexico.

Dawn Patrol pilots are specifically trained and certified to fly in the dark and their balloons are illuminated according to FAA specifications. The Dawn Patrol glow show begins around 5:45 am. Do not miss it; there is something inexplicably moving and hypnotic about watching these balloons piercing the inky black pre-dawn sky.


Mass Ascension

If time is on your side we recommend getting to the balloon festival on a morning with a mass ascension Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday. Preceding the mass ascension which happens at 7:00 am, there is the synchronised Dawn Patrol Show at 5:45 am.

Many hot air balloons in a field in different stages of take-off surrounded by people.

Once dawn breaks over the Sandia Mountains be prepared to have your breath taken away by the sight you will behold. With the gradual light of a new day, the sky becomes filled with hundreds of balloons in varying stages of ascension, drifting into the sunrise.


Morning Session Versus Evening Session

Let me clarify what each session entails, in order for you to choose which suits you best. Each offers a unique but different experience, along with ample incredible photo opportunities.

Morning Session

Gates open at 4:30 am for the morning session.

A hot air balloon being inflated featuring the zia symbol of New Mexico at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.
Crew Stabilising the Balloon With the Crown Line

Even if you are not a morning person, this is one time you should make an allowance. I promise you will not regret it once you get there! In the morning you are privy to everything, from watching the balloon crews unloading the gondolas (baskets) and burners to the laying out of the envelopes (balloons) on the ground. Witness the crews play tug of war with the crown line as they stabilise the balloon as it is being inflated. Ultimately, witness the mesmerizing display of hundreds of balloons as they slowly drift into the golden sunrise over the Sandia Mountains.

Evening Session

Gates open at 3:30 pm for the evening session.

There are no evening sessions Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday the week of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.

Many people gathered around a glowing hot air balloon Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta New Mexico.

The biggest difference with the evening session is the balloons are tethered – there is no ascension. As a result, the fully inflated balloons remain grounded and illuminated by their burners. The Balloon Glows and Glowdeo are heavy on just that – the glow aspect. Whilst fully illuminated the hot air balloons just hover there, tantalisingly within grasp. Evening visitors are treated to a laser light show and the evening culminates with the appropriately titled AfterGlow Fireworks Show.


Special Shape Rodeo

When:

  • 7:00 am Thursday Morning
  • 7:00 am Friday Morning
Close up of Yoda and Darth Vader special shape hot air balloons at the Albuquerque. International Balloon Fiesta
Darth Vadar and Yoda, the Stars of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

The special shape rodeo at the Balloon Fiesta showcases all of the special shape hot air balloons, and there are quite a few. Watch as bumble bees, motorbikes, cows and a slew of other characters take to the skies. Of course there are also the perennial favourites – Yoda and Darth Vadar surrounded by their legions of fans.


Special Shape Glowdeo

When:

  • 6:00 pm Thursday Evening
  • 6:00 pm Friday Evening

The Special Shape Glowdeo is the evening version of the Special Shape Rodeo. However at the Glowdeo, the special shape balloons are tethered whilst being fully illuminated by their burners. This is undeniably one of the most popular events at the International Balloon Fiesta.


Balloon Glows

When:

  • Twinkle Twinkle Glow: 6:00 pm First Saturday of the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta
  • The Balloon Glow: 6:00 pm First Sunday of the Balloon Festival
  • Night Magic Glow: 6:00 pm Second Saturday of the Balloon Fiesta

Tethered hot air balloons with their burners glowing in the dark at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.

Balloon Glows incorporate the evening illumination of both special shape and regular hot air balloons. There is no ascension, but you can walk amongst the moored, twinkling balloons and avail of amazing photo ops.


Hot Air Balloon Rides at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

For many the Balloon Festival offers the ultimate chance to fulfill their bucket list wish of going for a ride in a hot air balloon. Although there are multiple balloon companies operating in Albuquerque, Rainbow Ryders is the only one authorised to take off from Balloon Fiesta Park during the Festival. Hopefully you’ve been saving up for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!


Can I Volunteer at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta?

Yes, there are many different positions that require volunteers to keep the Balloon Fiesta running like a well oiled machine. For a complete rundown of what is required of volunteers consult the Volunteering FAQs on the official Balloon Fiesta website.



Getting Up Close and Personal

Perhaps the most astounding part of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is the absolute proximity with which the general public can get to the balloons. You can walk amongst these aeronautical wonders in all stages of their preparations for flight. Any questions you have will be answered by the actual pilots or crew. Naturally, the crew inflating the balloons will ask that you stand aside; please respect their requests.

Hot air balloons being slowly inflated with hot air balloons in the sky in the background at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

It is unfathomable in this day and age to see the public granted such access to an event of this magnitude. It’s as close as one can get to a hands on experience, and the public response is refreshingly evident in the smiles on people’s faces. I would hazard to say that for these 9 days in October, the Balloon Fiesta challenges Disneyland to the title “the happiest place on earth”!


The Albuquerque Box

Although the box effect is not unique to Albuquerque, this is where it has gained enough recognition to be dubbed the Albuquerque Box Effect. It is during the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta that balloonists hope to find themselves in this very box.

Balloonists are at the mercy of the wind for navigating their balloons. Their ability to “steer” their craft lies in simply ascending or descending into winds blowing in a particular direction. Horizontal momentum relies on vertical concurrence of the balloon and a suitable current.

Diagram of the Albuquerque Box effect

Due to the Albuquerque Box being a weather phenomena, it therefore is not a guarantee. However, early October appears to be an optimal time of year for it to be in effect. The box comprises lower altitude Southerly winds and higher altitude Northerly winds. If balloonists manipulate these conditions they can, in effect, take off and land in the same spot. For the thousands of spectators gathered on the ground this is just what they are hoping to witness.


Distracted Driving

Even without actually being at the International Balloon Fiesta all you have to do is drive through Duke City (Albuquerque) and you’ll witness hundreds of balloons dotting the morning sky. Personally I would love to know the statistics of car accidents during this time of year. I can’t help but think there has to be a spike in them, as commuters and tourists alike find their gaze on the show in the sky as opposed to their full attention being on the road.

Looking out a windscreen at a sky filled with hot air balloons.
No, Those Are Not Specks of Dirt on the Windscreen, They Are Balloons!

Along with the aerial display, it is quite common to see balloons touch down in neighbourhoods, business parking lots, alongside roadways or anywhere safe and viable during the festival. I must admit I am definitely glad I was not the one driving!


The Anderson Abruzzo International Balloon Museum

Where: 9201 Balloon Museum Dr. NE, Albuquerque

Website: www.balloonmuseum.com

Phone: (505) 768 6020

Hours: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm Tues. – Sun.

Free admission on Sundays 9:00 am – 1:00 pm and the first Friday of the month – excluding October.

So, you can’t make it to the Balloon Fiesta but you find yourself in Albuquerque? So, how do you get your balloon fix? As mentioned early on in this post, the Anderson-Abruzzo International Balloon Museum is located at Balloon Fiesta Park. Although the museum is relatively small it contains both informative and engaging exhibits on the history of ballooning.

Anderson Abruzzo Albuquerque International hot air balloon museum with bench outside made out of tiles depicting hot air balloons.

If you’ve got the family in tow and are looking for things to do in Albuquerque with kids, this is certainly a great place to take them. There are interactive exhibits to keep the kids occupied and everyone can try their hand at hot air ballooning with the in-house hot air balloon simulator!


The Afterglow of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

Typically on any given early morning in Albuquerque you will see at least a few balloons in the sky. Even though the Albuquerque Box may not be in effect this does not prevent balloonists from taking to the skies.

Balloon Crew truck with a gondola in the back at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.
Balloon Crew

Without the Box, pilots cannot take off and land in the same spot, but they do have their balloon chase crews who come to fetch them. These crews pursue their aerostats from trucks on the ground and remain in constant communication with the balloonists during flight.


It’s All Just Hot Air – A Bit of Literary Trivia

Though not directly related to the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta per se, I feel compelled to share this bit of balloon trivia with you. For many, there is an indelible link with the Phileas Fogg character of “Around the World in 80 Days” and hot air balloon travel. Not to burst your bubble, or in this case balloon, but Jules Verne never did place Phileas Fogg and his valet Passepartout in a hot air balloon. Although the author briefly mentioned the idea it was immediately dismissed as impossible.

We have pop culture to thank for imparting this inaccuracy upon us. Within the 1956 film adaptation of the book we see Phileas Fogg in a balloon during his endeavour to circumnavigate the globe. This image still endures, as seen recreated on book covers, film posters and even packets of “Phileas Fogg” crisps!


Balloon Fiesta Considerations

In addition to the tips at the beginning of this article please keep in mind this is a weather dependent event. As a result, cancellations during severe storms ensure the safety of all. Above all, read the rain check policies as listed on the official website. Man cannot control the weather…yet!

Check out the official FAQs sheet for an overview of Balloon Fiesta related material with a few interesting facts thrown in as well.

Hundreds of hot air balloons on the ground in varying stages of inflation at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.
Balloons as Far as the Eye Can See

Attending the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is a bucket list dream for many, and rightly so. The sheer scale of this event amazes everyone; there’s no need to be a balloon enthusiast.

Whether you catch the sunrise or sunset whilst surrounded by the glow of hundreds of balloons, you cannot help but be mesmerised by this world-class spectacle.



Things To Do In and Around Albuquerque

It is advisable to set aside at least a few days for the Albuquerque International Balloon Festival. Allow yourself extra time in the event weather is inclement and you may have to take a rain check on your original plan.

Should you find yourself looking for ways to fill your days in the Duke City, we have plenty of suggestions for day trips from Albuquerque as well as unique hiking trails in Albuquerque. Got more time on your side and want to explore more of New Mexico? We’ve compiled a handy guide of the best things to do in New Mexico. We’ve even got you covered if all that walking at the Balloon Festival has you aching for a soak in some hot springs.


Pin Me Now!

close up of hot air balloons in the sky including Irish guard and Mariachi shaped hot air balloons.Hot air balloon silhouettes at dawn, silhoutted against a mauve sky.

close up of red yellow and turquoise hot air balloon with red zia symbolImage of a hot air balloon in cinnamon stenciled onto a latte coffee.

multi coloured hot air balloons in the skyPurple hot air balloon with multi coloured crayon shapes encircling the base of the envelope. 4 other hot air balloons in the background all against a blue sky.

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24 Comments

  1. Haha I did think those were specks of dirt on the windshield! 😀 Anyhow, I didn’t know there was an Albuquerque Ballon Fiesta, let alone Albuquerque Box- such an interesting phenomenon! I can’t believe people are able to walk among the baloons and talk to the pilots and crew, that really sounds like Disneyland to me. I would love to watch the Dawn Patrol, it looks stunning on your photos.

    • Anja,

      Walking among the balloons is really unique, especially in this day and age! Many events will not let spectators so close to the action – it’s a liability, usually. This event really is amazing and we hope you make it there one day!

      Your Drifters,
      Fiona and Jerry

  2. The balloon fiestas are the great place as they are very colorful and lively. I agree morning and evening both sessions have its own importance and I would take loads of photo here. Thanks for sharing details about this fiesta.

  3. We have friends who live in Albuquerque and tell us we HAVE to come see the balloon festival, and we have yet to make it. But your story and photos may be that extra bit of inspiration we needed. Oh my but how cool it would be to photograph the dawn patrol lighting up an inky black sky.

    • Michael,

      Your friends are correct, and the 2018 Fiesta is only a few weeks away…

      Brink your camera along should you make it this year or to the following Fiesta – seeing hundreds of balloons take to the skies at once is quite amazing!

      Your Drifters,
      Fiona and Jerry

  4. Never heard of this Fiesta before. It looks so beautiful – I like hot air balloons a lot…to watch. Although I’ve never been in one, I’m afraid I’d be too…afraid. I’m pretty scared of heights, so this might be a problem (whereby I’m cool with flying….). However, I wish I can assist one day since hot air balloons always have something dreamy to them.

    • Renata,

      If you are scared of heights just keep your your feet on the ground and your head to the sky! There certainly is something dreamy about hot air balloons, and the sky here fills with several hundred of them each morning during the Fiesta.

      Your Drifters,
      Fiona and Jerry

  5. I can see why the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is the world’s most photographed event. All those colors filling the sky would be quite a scene to witness. I could never get myself on board, though…happier on the ground.

  6. Aaaaw… thanks for the information. We’ve been wanting to go during the festival but I seemed to NOT get around with it since we travel too much during summer and the Labor Day. BUT i am sure it is worth it!!!

  7. Great post, what an amazing festival. Good to know about the different sessions, and also what the best aspect of each session is, I’d find it hard to choose but probably opt for the morning one! I love the idea of unusually shaped and glowing balloons but I think the sunrise aspect would win it!

    • Kavita,

      The sunrise does win it! This is really an amazing event – the most photographed in the world. It starts in a few weeks, so if you are in the neighbourhood…

      Your Drifters,
      Fiona and Jerry

  8. Fantastic! I would love to visit for the morning session. My kids would love to see the shaped balloons!

  9. Amazing experience! I have seen many videos of this festival over the years. I can only imagine how much more impressive it is in real life. When you think about it $20 is not a large amount of money to spend to experience both the morning and evening experience. Are there any opportunities to ride in the Balloons or spectator only?

    Thanks for sharing. Keep travel blogging. Adventure is better shared with friends!

    • Anthony,

      It is money well spent considering you can get up close to the balloons as they lift-off. Also, you can arrange for rides well ahead of time. The official web site for the event will put you on the right path to the flight path.

      Your Drifters,
      Fiona and Jerry

  10. Very good details to know. I had no idea that the balloons did not go up at night, thanks for sharing. I just met with NM state tourism department last week. I can’t wait to explore New Mexico.

  11. Kerry A Abbott

    HOW in God’s name did we miss this last year???!!! We were in New Mexico the first week of October!!!
    Kerry and Sean

    • Kerry,
      We know you and Sean will be on the road again and we hope you two decide to see more of New Mexico. It is difficult to express just special it is to be within arms reach of all these balloons as they prepare to take off into the morning sky! Soon, the entire sky is filled with hundreds of balloons, only to be followed by another hundred! It is indeed something yous would remember forever, we promise.
      Thanks again for reading along! Let us know when you hit the road again.
      Your Drifters,
      Fiona and Jerry

  12. Nicely done Fiona. I remember seeing the balloons as I went to the university in the mornings in October (mid 1980s) You would usually hear them before you saw them.

    • Kieth,
      You seem to have a huge place in your heart for New Mexico just as much as we do! The Balloon Fiesta seems to get better every year, so put October in Albuquerque on your list.
      The balloons have, for me, become an enduring image of the city and I will never tire of seeing them in the sky and hearing them when we visit. You always manage to spot one or two on any given day throughout the year.
      Thanks so much for the comment!
      Your Drifters,
      Fiona and Jerry

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