1. Arrive Early
Make sure to arrive early, especially for the weekend sessions. While the events did not start until 5:45 AM we always entered the Balloon Fiesta park by 4:30 AM and it still takes 10 minutes to get through the line. Best of all, you can catch a quick nap in the parking lot once you secured your spot.
If you end up arriving closer to the starting time, the parking line can take over half an hour and you have to park a 20 minute walk from the gate. One day we decided to sleep in and arrive just before the first balloons took off and we ended up having to watch the beginning from our car
2. Dress in layers
October weather in Albuquerque is all over the place. During our week at the Balloon Fiesta the temperature ranged from around freezing to 80°F. At the same time the difference between the daily high and low can range upwards of 30°F, so layers are a must.
Arriving before dawn there can be frost covering the field and by the time you leave for lunch it is bathing suit weather. Wear several layers that are easy to shed and carry along as the sun warms the air.
3. Avoid Carrying a bag
If at all possible, pack everything you need in your pockets to avoid a long security line at the entrance. Every morning, everyone arrives at the same time, creating a long line to have your bag checked. Skip this line by bring in only what you need and fits in your pocket.
4. Get your ticket in advance
Buying your tickets can also save you a line at the entry gate. Just like the bag check, the ticket booth lines can get quite long first thing in the morning. At the same time most of the booths are cash only, meaning you need to have enough cash on hand. Buying your tickets in advance will save you from this hassle.
5. Bring a water bottle
Hydration is always key to having a good time. Arriving early in the morning, you might not be thinking about once the warm and bright sun pops out over the mountains. Make sure to bring along a bottle of water to keep you going throughout the day.
Of course there are drinks you can buy in the festival, but at several dollars a bottle, it is worth bringing your own in.