Is the Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, New Mexico part of your bucket list? If not, we are sure our pictures will convince you to attend. The Balloon Fiesta is the largest hot air balloon festival in the world, with over 500 balloons in attendance throughout the week of events. It takes place in early October when the nights are cool and the days are comfortably warm and sunny.
Make sure not to miss out on this breathtaking display and plan your trip to the Balloon Fiesta today!
How long should I spend at the Balloon Fiesta?
While the Balloon Fiesta lasts for nine days over two weekends, we highly recommend staying at least one weekend and several weekdays in Albuquerque. Every day at Balloon Fiesta is a unique experience. Changing weather, which ballons chose to fly and in what order they take off makes every day special.
For those of you without a whole week vacation to take, it is best to stay for a few days, as the balloons do not fly when the wind or other weather elements do not allow. For us, some events were delayed an hour or ended abruptly due to high surface winds. You would not want to have travelled all the way to New Mexico to miss your opportunity to witness this breathtaking event.
Each day begins before sunrise with a Laser Light Show and Dawn Patrol, which helps fellow balloonists see the current wind patterns at different elevations.
Once the green flag is given, the rest of the balloons are able to take off in a controlled manner. During the week, the balloons take off at their own pace, but on the weekends there is a Mass Ascension. This is when all the balloons take off in two quick waves, filling the skies with most spectacular sight of the event.
As the skies fill with the colorful and unique shape balloons you get to enjoy the unique weather patterns of the Albuquerque box, which allows the balloons to land back on the take off field, due to the circular winds at different altitudes.
During both weekends of the festival there are additional afternoon sessions. As the sun begins to set the balloons begin to inflate for a special night glow. While the balloons do not actually take off, they fill the field with with a massive display of twinkling lights.
After the night glow, the balloons are packed up for the day the final event of the evening is the AfterGlow Fireworks Show. It is a beautiful display to end an amazing day at the Balloon Fiesta!
While the main attraction of the event is the 500 plus balloons taking off each morning, there is much more to experience than the hot air balloons themselves.
Are there other events at the Balloon Fiesta?
On the grounds of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta there is plenty to experience beyond the daily balloon launches. At the southern end of the park is the Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum with the ballooning Hall of Fame.
Straight across the park is a long open tent with AIBF Chainsaw Carving Invitational taking place daily. Catch a glimpse of this skilled artform of turning simple tree stumps into an amazing piece of art. The amount of detail in carving with such a large chainsaw is astounding.
During the first Sunday on the Balloon Fiesta is the Fiesta of Wheels, a parade of hundreds of classic, vintage and special interest vehicles making their way onto the balloon field.
What is the weather in Albuquerque for the Balloon Fiesta?
The Balloon Fiesta takes place during the second week of October. This is the perfect time to visit Albuquerque and the rest of New Mexico. The high summer heats are gone and the cool autumn evenings have set in.
It is important to dress in layers, as there can be frost on the field when you arrive, but by the time you leave it is shorts weather. The temperatures also change drastically between days. One days high temperature can be the next day’s low!
At some point during the festival there can be a rain storm thats roll through for a short time. In our week there it rained once for about 15 minutes. At the same time surface winds do get high enough for a specific session’s events to be delayed or cancelled.
How do you get to the Balloon Fiesta?
There are several ways once you are in Albuquerque to get to the Balloon Fiesta.
We chose to drive ourselves to the Balloon Fiesta to give us the most freedom in timing. Thanks to Mitsubishi we had the comfortable Outlander Sport to get us around Albuquerque for the week.
General parking costs $15 per car. It gives you the most freedom on when you can come and go from the festival. The best part is you can easily walk back to your car and not have to worry about carrying everything around all day.
For those who are local or travel with a bike, this is the best way to save time and money with traffic and parking costs. At the Balloon Fiesta there is guarded bike valet parking free of charge. Get your daily exercise in with this fun opportunity.
The Balloon Fiesta also offers several park and ride options across the city. Skip the lines and traffic getting to the festival grounds with this option. There is no need to worry how late you wake up in the morning with getting stuck in traffic.
What else to do in Albuquerque during the Balloon Fiesta?
As the largest event of the year in Albuquerque, there are plenty of other attractions and events to enjoy throughout the week in this beautiful city. A great mix of one time happenings and regular places to visit allow for you to schedule the week on your own time and interests.
Make sure to read our complete guide of things to do in Albuquerque during the Balloon Fiesta.
When is the Balloon Fiesta happening next?
We know you are all ready to book your tickets to Albuquerque for the next Balloon Fiesta. So here are the future dates of the Balloon Fiesta for your planning needs:
- 2018: October 6-14
- 2019: October 5-13
- 2020: October 3-11
Remember, accommodations in Albuquerque fill up early for this event, with many people getting their hotel a year in advance!