Hundreds of colorful balloons at the festival
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The Ultimate Guide To The Albuquerque Balloon Festival 2022

The Albuquerque Balloon Festival officially known as the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta is 9 days of hot air ballooning fun! There are certain experiences that need to be on everyone’s bucket list and attending the balloon fiesta should be at the top.

It is an unreal feeling watching hundreds of hot air balloons ascend up, up, and away in a brilliant array of magic.

There are not many things that leave me speechless but attending the festival, I felt like a kid on Christmas morning waiting in both excitement and anticipation.

With my senses alert, I could feel my heart racing with panic of where to look as I didn’t want to miss a thing!

The Albuquerque Balloon Festival is a magical and exciting event!
The Albuquerque Balloon Festival is a magical and exciting event!

And how I would possibly enjoy what I was seeing, take photos and video all at once was a whole other piece to the fun puzzle of attending the festival.

Throughout this guide, I’ll walk you through the biggest questions and tips on how to get the best possible experience from your first balloon fiesta!

October is one of the best months to visit New Mexico for the beautiful weather, vibrant yellows of Aspen trees, and the sky decorated in hundreds of balloons.

Gazing up, the fiesta looks like a fun and colorful live painting that is unreal to see!

The hot air balloons are a vibrant array of colors!
A vibrant array of colors!

Note: I will update this post every year so that you have the information needed to attend. You can check for updates on the official website to confirm any changes.

Where Is The Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta?

This spectacular event is held in Albuquerque, New Mexico which is in the Southwest portion of the United States.

Albuquerque is the largest city in the state of New Mexico laying in a valley in between the Sandia Mountains and the Rio Grande River.

Be aware that Albuquerque is at a high elevation of 5,312 feet (1,619 meters) so take precautions if you are sensitive to high altitude.

Drinking plenty of water, limiting alcohol, and easing into physical activity can help reduce issues.

The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is the largest balloon festival in the world!
The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is the largest balloon festival in the world!

Albuquerque is about 1 hour from Santa Fe, New Mexico, and about 2.5 hours from Taos, New Mexico.

Taos is further past the town of Santa Fe and both I highly recommend visiting.

Make sure to explore my posts, 15 Best Things To Do In Santa Fe, and 7 Unique Day Trips From Santa Fe.

Specifically, the festival is held at the Balloon Fiesta Park which is north of downtown Albuquerque.

The best address to get you to the park is for the Balloon Museum which is on the edge of the park at 9201 Balloon Museum Dr NE, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

And if you plan to head to southern New Mexico, explore Things To Do In White Sands National Park!

Tip: Looking for things to do in Albuquerque outside of the festival? Learn more via my post, The Perfect Weekend In Albuquerque.

Get A PDF Of This Guide For Your Trip

For your convenience, you can download a copy of this Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta guide or print it to take with you. It includes pictures and links within the post. It’s ad-free ad handy for on the go!

Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta Guide Mock Up

Buy Your Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta PDF Guide Today!

When Is The Albuquerque Balloon Festival?

The Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta is held every year in the beginning of October for a total of 9 days.

For 2022, the balloon fiesta is scheduled for October 1st, 2022 and ending on October 9th, 2022.

The anticipation builds as the pilots setup
The anticipation builds as the pilots setup

You might wonder why October? Well, I am not an expert in the science of it all but October has ideal weather conditions for flying a hot air balloon.

And specifically, in the high desert valley of Albuquerque. At this time of year, the mornings are very cool which helps the balloons get their lift.

And once the sun rises it creates an effect called the “Albuquerque Box”. This metaphorical box allows balloons to take off and land in pretty much the same place. There is usually no wind or not enough to prevent the balloons from flying.

How cool is this?!
How cool is this?!

October tends to have some of the best weather of the year as it is still warm during the day without the intense heat or cold as in other months. The early mornings are what I would call freezing!

The key is to bundle up in layers as the morning temps around 4:00 am range from 30 F and 40 F. As the sun comes up, the temperatures will increase and get hot.

History Of The Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

The Fiesta has been a hit for 49 years starting in 1972 and has become an iconic symbol of New Mexico.

In 1972 the fiesta involved 13 balloons and today there are over 500 balloons that are awe-inspiring to see.

The Balloon Fiesta has been celebrating since 1972
The Balloon Fiesta has been celebrating since 1972

Attending the festival was my first time in New Mexico and I really didn’t know much about this beautiful state other than it hosted the most amazing balloon fiesta on the planet!

What a cute happy puppy hot air balloon...
What a cute happy puppy…

I’m so glad it got me to visit as it is one of the most breathtaking and exhilarating experiences, I have ever had. To witness that many balloons in flight at once and to ride in one for the first time is sensational…

Biggest Balloon Festivals In The World

The Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta is not only the biggest balloon festival in New Mexico but in the entire United States and the world!

Yep, Albuquerque, New Mexico is proud to host the biggest and coolest balloon party you will ever see. It is said that it is also the most photographed event in the world too.

Attending a large balloon fiesta needs to be on everyone's bucket list!
Attending a large balloon fiesta needs to be on everyone’s bucket list!

If you only get the chance to attend one balloon festival in your lifetime, the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta should be it! So where are the other awesome balloon festivals in the world? To round out the top 5, they are:

  • Colorado Springs Labor Day Lift Off (Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States) – held on Labor Day Weekend (September)
  • Great Reno Balloon Race (Reno, Nevada, United States) – held in the beginning of September
  • International Balloon Festival of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu (near Montreal, Canada) – held mid-August
  • Bristol International Balloon Fiesta (Bristol, England) – held the beginning of August

Note: Although it isn’t a festival, going for a hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia, Turkey should be included in ballooning must experiences! It is still on mine…

A smiley lady bug balloon!
A smiley ladybug balloon!

Where To Stay In Albuquerque

There are a few options to decide where you want to stay during the Albuquerque Balloon Festival. It comes down to preference of a hotel, glamping, or camp in an RV at the fiesta park.

Best Hotel Options:

Doubletree Albuquerque Downtown – I stayed here and as with all Hilton properties, I thought it was very nice and perfect for my stay.

Los Poblanos Historic Inn – On my next visit to Albuquerque I would very much like to stay at the tranquil and historic inn.

Hotel Parq Central – This is another hotel that I would recommend as it looked very nice and as a bonus, it has a rooftop bar!

Glamping @ The Balloon Fiesta Park:

For those that aren’t aware, the glamping tents are very nice upscale versions of any camping you may have done. The glamping tents are located in a tent village in a section of the balloon park.

So, you don’t even need to worry about dealing with traffic as you will already be there! Your stay is for 3 nights and includes your entry into the festival during those days.

RV Camping:

If you are on a road trip in your RV, then consider camping at the Balloon Fiesta Park. You need to book in advance on their website as sites sell out.

Note: To book for both glamping and RV camping, you need to book in advance as there are limited spots. You can book on the official website here.

Tip: If you are staying in or near downtown Albuquerque it will take about 15-20 mins to get to the park. But I recommend giving yourself 30 – 45 mins to get there as there will be a line to get in.

How Far In Advance Do I Need To Buy Tickets?

You do need to plan ahead if you plan to go to the festival. Luckily, you don’t need to book everything in advance if you don’t want to but I personally like to book everything when there is no wiggle room in dates and I really want to do something.

Tickets to each session are only $10!
Tickets to each session are only $10!

Tickets to the festival can be purchased the day you attend but I highly recommend buying in advance so that you don’t have to wait in line the day of. Plus, there are options where you can buy your ticket with parking or a shuttle included.

The main items you need to book in advance are a hotel, rental car, and if you want to go up in a balloon during the festival. To find the best rates on a car rental click here to reserve your car today!

Those 3 things tend to fill up quickly and are essential to having a great time at the event. For example, I booked hotel and hot air balloon ride about 6 months in advance and a rental car 2-3 months ahead of time.

Note: For general admission, tickets are $15 per session. Children under 12 are free.

What Are The Best Days To Attend The Balloon Festival?

If you are fortunate enough to attend any day at the Albuquerque International Balloon Festival, then that is a spectacular day!

Having said that, if your schedule is flexible try to attend at least one session during the week.

Attending during the week is less crowded
Attending during the week is less crowded

During the week there will be a lot less traffic than the weekend so try to go then.

I attended on a Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday with both morning and evening sessions and loved the different experiences between them all. I did notice a substantial increase in people on Saturday.

Tip: If you only have one day to pick, go to a morning session that has a Mass Ascension!

Note: Plan on doing a lot of walking the days you are at the festival and have super comfy walking shoes. Having a pair of shoes that you can stand or walk in all day is vital…

How Many Sessions Should I Attend?

Since this is a bucket list event to attend, plan several days to be in New Mexico and go to multiple sessions.

I would recommend attending 3 – 4 sessions for a few reasons. First, each session is different and it is exciting to see the variation in balloons and shows.

Try to attend multiple sessions to see a variety of balloons and shows!
Try to attend multiple sessions to see a variety of balloons and shows!

Second, the balloon fiesta is at the mercy of mother nature so you are not guaranteed to see the balloons go up.

That is why you want to allow several days in the area. My first session was beyond amazing but the second day, it was too windy and no balloon was going up for almost 2 days.

When pigs fly?...
When pigs fly?…

At first, I was devastated as that meant my own balloon ride was canceled. But thankfully I was in New Mexico for over a week touring other cities too.

The days the festival was canceled I went to Santa Fe, etc… On the 4th and 5th day the wind gods were happy and balloons went up and the potential catastrophe was avoided!

Attend a Special Shapes show to see fun balloons like the Smurfs!
Attend a Special Shapes show to see fun balloons like the Smurfs!

I met a few people that arrived on the day the festival was canceled due to wind and they were obviously heartbroken as they only planned the one day to attend.

Usually, there are no weather issues but just in case allow a buffer in your schedule and attend a few sessions for this reason.

What Is The Difference Between Sessions?

Before you book tickets to a particular session, determine what you are most interested in seeing by looking at the schedule. I attended 4 different sessions over 3 days as I wanted to experience the different sessions myself.

Each session is different every day and between the morning and evening sessions.

  • Morning Sessions is from 5:00 am to 10:00 am
  • Evening Session is from 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm
The Dawn Patrol is an incredible sight to watch!
The Dawn Patrol is an incredible sight to watch!
The early morning glow...
The early morning glow…

Within each session, there are different shows each day. The shows that I think are a must are the Dawn Patrol, Morning Glow, and Mass Ascension in the Morning Session.

The top shows in the Evening Session are the Special Shape Glowdeo and AfterGlow Fireworks.

Watching hundreds of balloons fly during Mass Ascension is the most amazing thing I have ever seen...
Mass Ascension is the most amazing thing I have ever seen…

Here is a quick summary breakdown of the main shows:

Dawn Patrol: This takes place before dawn where a handful of pilots lift up the balloons to test the winds and determine the conditions before all the balloons go up. It is a gorgeous scene to look out at a pitch dark sky and see random balloons light up the skyline with their fire illuminating the field.

Mass Ascension: This is the best show, where over 500 hot air balloons ascend into the morning sky all at once. It is a phenomenal sight and will leave you speechless… Likely every photo you have seen of the fiesta is from a Mass Ascension show.

Special Shape Rodeo & Glowdeo: This show ended up being so fun as all the unusual shaped balloons are mostly cartoon characters and animals for a whimsical show.

Twilight & Night Balloon Glow: This is when the burners of the balloons are ignited and you can see what looks like a light dancing celebration!

To see a complete and detailed festival schedule, visit their official website here.

Best Place To View The Balloons?

If you are in the Balloon Fiesta Park then you can see the balloons from pretty much anywhere.

At the first session I attended, I watched on the edge of the field from the Gondola Club tent. It was great but I wanted a close-up view of the balloons.

Close-up in the middle of all the balloons is the best!
Close-up in the middle of all the balloons is the best!

Before going, I had no idea that you are able to walk on the field and among the balloons as they are setting up and taking flight.

To me, that was insane and yet so exciting. At first, I was thinking could this be safe? But they have an extremely good safety record which put me at ease.

It is rare that you are allowed onto the field with the balloons close enough to touch them! Be alert as balloons are taking flight and landing all over the place.

The energy you feel from 360 degrees around you is unreal as you take part in the launching of the balloons.

But don't miss out on stepping back to see the balloons from afar
But don’t miss out on stepping back to see the balloons from afar

That said, I would start out on the outer parts of the field to take in the whole scene as the action of turning on the balloon burners startup.

Get some great photos and then wander in and out through hundreds of balloons toward the center of the field as they go up and up!

There really is no bad spot to watch the balloon activity but expect to be on your feet as you can continuously walk over to the next wave of balloons getting ready to take off. You can bring a foldup chair or blanket and just stay put, but in my opinion, that is no fun!

Can I Go Up In A Balloon?

Yes, you can! An important thing to know is that there is a limited amount of balloons that go up each day for regular people like you and me. The rest are teams that are flying their balloons as part of the fiesta competition.

Watching the pilots set up the hot air balloon ride!
Watching the pilots set up the hot air balloon ride!

For that reason, book your ticket to go up in a hot air balloon ride with Rainbow Ryders as soon as you decide to go. They are the only company that flies during the festival.

The price you pay will be at least double than if you were to take a hot air balloon ride, not during the festival.

Balloons decorate the sky...
Balloons decorate the sky…

Gasp I know, but it comes down to demand. There are limited spots and it is the BEST balloon ride when you are among so many balloons. It really is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that is worth the splurge.

Hot air ballooning is a beautiful form of art!
Hot air ballooning is a beautiful form of art!
The heat that the balloon's burner gives off is intense!
The heat that the balloon’s burner gives off is intense!

I’m terrified of heights so I was a little hesitant to get into the basket. But once we took off, all nerves were gone and I was giddy with joy at how amazing it felt to be up so high in the sky among so many balloons.

Snug in the basket and getting ready to take off!
Snug in the basket and getting ready to take off!

I am happy to report that you don’t feel movement when flying. You wouldn’t even know you are moving unless you looked at the ground below. It was surprisingly peaceful and quiet except for when the burner turned on.

It is very peaceful and gorgeous experience to fly in a hot air balloon...
It is very peaceful and gorgeous experience to fly in a hot air balloon…

When the pilot gives directions and tells you how to prepare for landing, listen up! I was too excited and blanked out on what he said and failed to brace myself properly.

The landing was a little bumpy for a few seconds and I bruised my hand. But totally my fault as I didn’t hold on properly…

Get A PDF Of This Guide For Your Trip

For your convenience, you can download a copy of this Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta guide or print it to take with you. It includes pictures and links within the post. It’s ad-free ad handy for on the go!

Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta Guide Mock Up

Buy Your Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta PDF Guide Today!

Essentials Tips For A Good Time

  • The morning session starts out freezing, so bundle up with a jacket, scarf, and gloves. The key is to wear layers as it will warm throughout the day.
  • Wear comfy shoes as you will be on your feet and walking around most of the time. For the most comfortable walking shoe that is cute too.
  • Ok, you might laugh but having hand and feet warmers was a lifesaver and made being out in the cold no big deal. You can order the hand warmers and feet warmers I used.
  • In contrast to the tip above, have sunscreen with you especially if you burn easily. Once the sun comes up it can get warm and as there isn’t any shade you want to be prepared.
  • After the sun pops up, it is quite sunny, so have sunglasses and a hat handy.
  • Carry hand sanitizer or wet wipes.
  • When you first arrive in the early morning around 4:00 am or 5:00 am it is very dark so using my headlamp was nice to keep my hands free for my hot coffee and camera!
  • A majority of the vendors only seem to accept cash. Some take credit cards but I would have some cash with you and can access an ATM if you need more.
  • Drink plenty of water and limit alcohol consumption as it is dry and with a high elevation you want to hydrate.
  • The weather is warm and dry with potential wind. To prevent your hands from feeling like the skin of an alligator, carry some hand lotion.
  • If you are with others, pick a spot where you can all meet up if you get lost. Trust me, in a blink, you lose the people you are with.
  • You can bring a blanket or chair but you will likely be walking among the balloons and not using the chair.
  • And finally, make sure you book in advance to go up in a hot air balloon ride as the slots will sell out!

Extra Bonus Tip: Download the Fiesta App to use throughout your visit and get weather alerts, etc…

The adorable penguin s and koala shaped balloons
The different animal balloons are so cute!

Photo Tips!

  • It should go without saying but bring your camera and GoPro to take the coolest photos.
  • Make sure you have a wide-angle lens otherwise you won’t get an entire balloon in your frame if you are decently close. I took almost all my photos using a wide-angle lens.
  • For the early morning session and near sunset, use a tripod with a remote.
  • Get to the balloon fiesta park early and as soon as parking opens up so you have time to setup. You don’t want to feel rushed and miss out!
Having a tripod is nice to have in the dawn and evening times
Having a tripod is nice to have in the dawn and evening times

Fiesta Sponsors

When I attended, Canon Camera was the official presenting sponsor for the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta.

But for 2022, Exon Mobil is the presenting sponsor for the fiesta!

Canon is the presenting sponsor for the fiesta!
Canon is the presenting sponsor for the fiesta!
Watching balloons setup in the early morning hours...
Watching balloons set up in the early morning hours…

The presenting sponsor will have its own balloon that you can see daily at the balloon grounds. There are a number of smaller sponsors and if you are lucky enough to be invited, you can hang in one of their VIP tents.

How To Get To The Balloon Fiesta?

The main airport to fly into is the Albuquerque International Sunport (ABQ) and to the balloon fiesta field it is about a 15 – 20 minute drive.

So you could grab an Uber/Lyft or rent a car if you plan to visit some of the attractions outside of downtown. In anticipation of your trip, start exploring the best flight deals to Albuquerque!

There are multiple ways to get to and from Balloon Fiesta Park. The obvious is to drive and park at the festival.

I personally didn’t mind this option as although there are a ton of cars, I was impressed at how well they have it controlled that it doesn’t take that long to get in and out.

This balloon looks exhausted from all the flying fun!
This balloon looks exhausted from all the flying fun!

Let’s say they have years of experience in mastering the traffic flow that exceeded my expectations.

But if you don’t want to drive and pay for the $20 parking fee per vehicle, you can purchase a park and ride ticket online instead.

There are a handful of places to park and then take a bus that drops you off in front. The cost for the park and ride is $22 per adult but includes your ticket into one session at the festival.

A policeman and puppy balloons having fun
I preferred driving to the festival as it came to about the same price as the park and ride

Taking an Uber or Lyft won’t save you much more time as they will still have to wait in the line of cars like everyone else. And it might be more pricey for the time.

If you are really ambitious, you can ride your bike in for free. For me, there is no chance of me getting on a bike around 4:00 am…

Tip: If you or anyone in your group has a hard time walking around or disability, you can rent a wheelchair or a motorized scooter. Rentals are at both the north and south entrances into the park.

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta 2022 Schedule

Saturday, October 1st:

  • Dawn Patrol Show @ 6:00 am
  • Krispy Kreme Morning Glow @ 6:30 am
  • Mass Ascension @ 7:00 am
  • America’s Challenge Gas Balloon Inflation @ 2:00 pm
  • Twilight Twinkle Glow @ 6:00 pm
  • AfterGlow Fireworks Show @ 8:00 pm

Sunday, October 2nd:

  • Dawn Patrol Show @ 6:00 am
  • Krispy Kreme Morning Glow @ 6:30 am
  • Mass Ascension @ 7:00 am
  • Balloon Glow @ 6:00 pm
  • AfterGlow Fireworks Show @ 8:00 pm

Monday, October 3rd:

  • Dawn Patrol @ 6:00 am
  • Ascension-Balloon Launch from Park @7:00 am
  • Competition Balloon Flying @ 8:00 am
  • Balloon Launch @ 7:00 am

Tuesday, October 4th:

  • Dawn Patrol @ 6:00 am
  • Balloon Launch @ 7:00 am
These animal balloons are larger than life!
These animal balloons are larger than life!

Wednesday, October 5th:

  • Dawn Patrol Show @ 6:00 am
  • Krispy Kreme Morning Glow @ 6:30 am
  • Flight of the Nations Mass Ascension @ 7:00 am

Thursday, October 6th:

  • Dawn Patrol Show @ 6:00 am
  • Special Shape Rodeo @ 7:00 am
  • Special Shape Glowdeo @ 6:00 pm
  • AfterGlow Fireworks Show @ 8:00 pm

Friday, October 7th:

  • Dawn Patrol Show @ 6:00 am
  • Special Shape Rodeo @ 7:00 am
  • Special Shape Glowdeo @ 6:00 pm
  • AfterGlow Fireworks Show @ 8:00 pm

Saturday, October 8th:

  • Dawn Patrol Show @ 6:00 am
  • Krispy Kreme Morning Glow @ 6:30 am
  • Mass Ascension @ 7:00 am
  • Night Magic Glow @ 6:00 pm
  • AfterGlow Fireworks Show @ 8:00 pm

Sunday, October 9th:

  • Dawn Patrol Show @ 6:00 am
  • Krispy Kreme Morning Glow @ 6:30 am
  • Farewell Mass Ascension @ 7:00 am

VIP Treatment

If you are looking for a VIP experience, there are a few options. If you are invited by one of the sponsors then you will get to enjoy food and booze in one of their tents.

But if you don’t have any of those connections, there is the Gondola Club and Chasers Club that you can buy a ticket to.

View of the fiesta starting from the Gondola Club
View of the fiesta starting from the Gondola Club

Gondola Club ($125 per adult) – The ticket includes entry into a private area that has tents with a buffet of food, coffee, and drinks. There is some seating in one of the tents but most of the seating is outside so bundle up! The seating has an excellent view of the balloons on the edge of the field.

Watching balloons take off as the sun rises is beautiful...
Watching balloons take off as the sun rises is beautiful…

I attended the Gondola Club on my first morning and overall I enjoyed it having a place to sit down and have something to eat before the fiesta got started. But I do think that they could do better on the food as it was ok.

I didn’t stay in the private Gondola Club area as I wanted to go walk among the balloons once the fiesta started. Is it worth it? Yes, if money isn’t a problem as you do get private bathrooms and super close parking included too.

It is incredible to see so many balloons clustered together!
It is incredible to see so many balloons clustered together!

Chasers Club ($60 per adult) – If you want a VIP experience without the higher price tag, the Chaser Club is a great option as you get access to a private outdoor seating area and a light breakfast/snacks.

Food Options At The Fiesta

You are able to bring food in with you as long as it isn’t in any glass container. There are a handful of picnic tables or you can picnic on the grassy field. If you would rather buy something to eat there are numerous food vendors to choose from.

Enjoying a cup of pinon coffee!
Enjoying a cup of pinon coffee!

If you have ever been to a state fair, the food reminded me of that. Lots of burgers, hotdogs, pizza, and ice cream. Nothing that stands out but average I would say for an event or festival. I would have a snack but wait to eat at a great restaurant in town before or after the fiesta.

If you need a caffeine fix, give Pinon coffee a try! If you are looking for some excellent places to eat in Albuquerque, then try one of these:

Tomasita’s (New Mexican food) – 4949 Pan American Freeway NE, Albuquerque, NM

Cocina Azul Downtown (New Mexican food) – 1134 Mountain Rd NW, Albuquerque, NM

Church Street Café (New Mexican food ) – 2111 Church Street NW, Albuquerque, NM

Tip: Bring cash as many vendors don’t accept cards but there are ATMs available if you need more.

Have the best time at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta as it is quite the experience!

Get A PDF Of This Guide For Your Trip

For your convenience, you can download a copy of this Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta guide or print it to take with you. It includes pictures and links within the post. It’s ad-free ad handy for on the go!

Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta Guide Mock Up

Buy Your Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta PDF Guide Today!

This penguin balloon is ready to take some photos!
This penguin is ready to take some photos!

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Every October hundreds of colorful hot air balloons fill up Albuquerque’s sky for the biggest hot air balloon fiesta in the world. In this guide I’ll provide you with tons of tips, info and photo inspiration for the best experience at the Albuquerque Balloon Festival In New Mexico!

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44 Comments

  1. what an amazing experience!! I would love to go to this festival. I loved all the details you included about the different sessions. Maybe next year is the year for me!

    1. Thanks Lannie! It was such an incredible experience that words can’t do it justice. I definitely want to go back and do it again one year. I hope you can make it next year! 🙂

  2. Wow, all those colours are amazing! Thanks for sharing such in depth info, I definitely feel inspired to book a trip now!

    1. You’re welcome! The colors are so bright and happy that you can’t help but have a wonderful time. 🙂

  3. I’d never heard of this before; it looks like so much fun! Definitely something I’d love to experience at some point ☺️

    1. I hope you do get to go one year. Nowhere in the world is there anything like it which makes it spectacular! 🙂

  4. I had no idea this was a thing! How much fun is this!? I would love to go to a festival like this. I’m in Canada and have been reading about SO many different things to do in the USA. What a little hidden gem this is!

    1. It was so incredibly fun! I was in constant awe and felt like a kid on Christmas morning. Yes, there are so many awesome things to see in the USA that can keep you busy for weeks! 🙂

  5. Woooow Ness, this looks amaaaaazing. I love the colours, the crazy animal faces on ballons and yaaay that you even got to go up in a balloon! Albuquerque looks like an epic adventure, especially if you like taking photos!

    I can’t tell from the photo, what was the pattern on your ballon?

    1. Omg, it is truly amazing Josy! I had always wanted to attend this festival and it was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. The balloon I went up in was striped in yellow, red and blue plus the logo of the balloon company. The only company that flies is Rainbow Ryders but they don’t have enough, so they contract for other pilots and balloons to come from all over the country to contract under them during the festival. I highly recommend going for sure! 🙂

    1. Oh I hope you get to go up in a hot air balloon ride as it is a magical experience! 🙂

  6. I actually booked flights and lodging for this year’s (2020) festival *cry emoji* Depending on how conditions are though, I might still go and just explore anyway since I’ve never been!

    1. Oh I’m so sorry you had everything booked as they just canceled it this past week. Sending you a hug… Not traveling this year has been so hard but hopefully, you can make it next year as it is truly worth it! 🙂

  7. My mom used to go to Albaquerque for business trips and told me all about the balloon festival! It looks like so much fun!

    1. Oh that is so cool! Yes, it is such a fun festival and one worth spending a few days to see the different shows. 🙂

    1. It definitely is amazing and an event to attend! Yes, they have a night glow but not every night, so check the schedule ahead of time to make sure you can go to it. 🙂

  8. Albuquerque is such a fun and quirky city. I would love to go to the hot air balloon festival. I went to a kite festival one year and was totally amazed and how well it was organized. Some of those balloon shapes are quite fun.

    1. I agree Albuquerque is a unique city and so fun during the festival. I would love to attend a kite festival, I bet that is super cool too. My favorite balloons were definitely the animals. 🙂

  9. This balloon festival has been on my bucket list for years!! I was hoping to make it there next year. I will certainly pin your guide for my next visit!

    1. You will definitely enjoy it and it will be a phenomenal experience. Have an awesome time when you do go! 🙂

  10. This looks like SO much fun! I have always wanted to go for a balloon ride but never got around to it. I’m pinning this so that hopefully once it’s safe to travel again I can make the trip to Albuquerque to experience this unique festival!

    1. I was the same way, I kept thinking one day I’ll get to it and I wish I hadn’t waited so long but it was worth the wait! I can’t say enough amazing things about the Balloon Fiesta and one I’m sure you will love. 🙂

  11. I’ve been to Albuquerque but never to the balloon festival. I had no idea it was the largest one in the world!! If I ever get to go, I definitely would want to see Dawn Patrol, that looks so cool. I’d also love to ride in a balloon – that’s something I’ve always wanted to! This is such a comprehensive article, I loved it!

    1. Thank you! I was shocked too to find out it is the biggest but it makes sense as there are over 500 balloons and it grows each year. Watching the Dawn Patrol was so cool especially if you are getting up that early, it is worth it! 🙂

  12. This is definitely on my bucket list, and you have so much helpful information! I didn’t know about the night sessions. They look awesome. Thanks for the tip about the wide angle lens as well. I would hate to have all my pics get cut off.

    1. Having a wide-angle lens is essential as when you are close up to the balloons it can even be a challenge to take a shot otherwise! Both the morning and night sessions are awesome but if you have to pick go on a morning session that has a Mass Ascension show. It is mind-blowing to see! 🙂

  13. Very cool experience! We’ve been to New Mexico but I absolutely need to take my family to this festival. Loved the photos and details and thanks for sharing!

    1. You’re welcome! Now you have a great excuse to visit New Mexico again as I’m sure your entire family will love it. 🙂

  14. I so want to do this!! We have a tiny version of the balloon festival in my small hometown but it’s on my bucket list to see the real deal!

    1. Oh that is cool that you have attended a small one. Yes, if you loved that one then you will be amazed at the size and excitement of Albuquerque’s Balloon Fiesta! 🙂

  15. This looks like an incredible opportunity! I would LOVE to go for a hot air balloon ride one day and it must be great views over the desert. Also looks so beautiful seeing all the colourful balloons in the sky 🙂

    1. Luckily you have plenty of time to plan to go in October 2021! It was unreal to see so many balloons up close like that and an experience I can’t recommend enough. 🙂

  16. Wow…what a magical and colorful event. I knew the festival was huge but had no idea there were more than 500 balloons. Love the colors against the blue sky.

    1. It is jaw-dropping to see so many balloons! I hope you get to see it one day! 🙂

  17. One of our all time favourite travel memories was visiting the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta. It did indeed feel like a kid on Christmas morning. The shaped balloons were my favourite. I will have to try out one of the other balloon festivals. We were sorry we did not get to go up in a balloon. But maybe another time! A great guide for people wanting to visit the Balloon Fiesta.

    1. Thank you Linda! That is so cool that you got to experience this fiesta too! I’m also looking forward to attending other festivals to see how they all differ. I really hope you get to go up in a balloon as it is unreal. 🙂

  18. What a wonderful guide Vanessa. I would love to visit the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta. It seems such a fun and colourful festival. Going up in a hot air balloon is still on my bucket list.

    1. Thank you Wendy! It is a fabulous festival and one of those things you won’t regret attending. It is definitely a bucket list item! 🙂

    1. You will love it as it is one of those experiences that you will remember forever. I’m glad my photos were able to transport you there virtually! 🙂

    1. You’re welcome! I’m glad you found the guide informative and inspiring to see the balloon festival one day! Going up in a balloon is an incredible experience that I hope you get to do yourself. 🙂

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