When the autumn season is just starting to arrive and the cooler weather blows in along with gentle breezes, the Albuquerque skies becomes dotted with brilliantly colored hot air balloons. From a small get together in 1972 an internationally acclaimed festival now lies in its wake attracting people from all over the world to watch the skies with awe and delight. The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta definitely had humble beginnings. A bantam gathering in 1972 brought ballooning enthusiasts together to exhibit 13 vibrantly decorated hot air balloons and enjoy a pastime together that not many people had discovered back then. The Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta was born out of a labor of love.
The enterprising balloonists named was Sid Cutter and it was he who held the initial intimate rally and started the country's first sport hot air balloons. The trend grew and spread infectiously and by 1996 the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta was celebrating its 25th anniversary in a new field in the north valley of Albuquerque. A record crowd of 1.5 million people gathered in 1997 and were magically entertained by an extravaganza in a record mass rising of 850 balloons! The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is held every year at the beginning of October lasting 9 days and is the largest of its kind in the world. On any day during the festival up to 100,000 people gather in the fields to watch this time honored tradition and delight in the spectacular and vibrantly intense event. This is one of the top-rated things to do this time of year and makes one of many fantastic day trips while in Albuquerque.
There's no better time for Albuquerque hot air balloon rides then at the Balloon Fiesta but the area offers rides all year round weather permitting of course. One of the more exciting Albuquerque balloon rides is one that takes off before sunrise allowing a stunning view of the stars, city lights and then the gorgeous sunrise. Rides can be taken during the Balloon Fiesta but they are extremely coveted so be sure to book as far in advance as possible.
Albuquerque hot air balloon rides are exceptional during the Balloon Fiesta as not only are the groups of colorful balloons great to watch from below but they're equally stunning to watch from their level way up in the sky. The rides are one of the most cherished events by visitors. Since Albuquerque is famous for ballooning because of the Albuquerque Balloon Festival there are many different tour operators functioning in the region and offering many different themed rides from anniversaries and birthday's to corporate events and just-for-fun flights. There are many different tours to choose from when in the city.
Albuquerque is an ideal location for this exciting event because of something called "the box" which is utilized at the Albuquerque Balloon Festival every year. "The box" is a group of wind figuration's used to maneuver the balloons and manipulate their direction. Higher elevations tend to be northerly while lower elevations are normally southerly and the balloonists use this theory to navigate their balloons in a box-like shape staying in the area to show off their wild and wonderful creations to the enthusiastic fans below.
Crowds gather in the Balloon Fiesta's Park, appointed specially for the festival itself. Imagine 54 football fields side by side and that's pretty much the size of the balloon park's launch field! There is no bad view from below, that's for sure! These days the Albuquerque Balloon Festival features many special events including Mass Ascension, Special Shape Rodeo, Balloon Glow, and Night Magic Glow and Special Shape Glodeo where over 100 individually shaped balloons show their stuff to the on looking flood of people.
Here are several pictures that I took when Ed and I attended several years ago.