The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is one of the most famous of its kind around the world, and by far the largest annual event in the state of New Mexico, drawing nearly double the attendance of its second biggest with over 839,000 attending in 2017.
Truly a sight to see with colorful balloons filling the nearly always bright blue skies above the city, purchasing Albuquerque Real Estate means you may even be able to watch the spectacle from your own house. But the festival offers a lot more than that, with many reasons to attend whether you live in the area or are coming from afar.
The Sky Lights Up Before Dawn
In the early morning hours before the sun comes up, many of the hot air balloons line up, using their propane burners to illuminate the sky, with pilots performing synchronized burns, an especially magnificent sight.
The Incredible Mass Ascension
If you can’t manage to wake up early enough to arrive before dawn, you’ll have the opportunity to watch the mass ascension, with hundreds of balloons all launching in two waves. It occurs over about a two-hour period that typically starts just after 7 a.m., following the singing of the National Anthem. That means for two hours you can watch the balloons as they’re set up, inflated and launched while walking around the field. For many attendees, it’s the highlight of the fiesta.
The flying competitions are always fun to watch too. The pilots test their skills while competing against other hot air balloonists in a variety of events like fly-ins where they drop something onto a specific target, grab or toss rings from various poles.
In addition to hot air balloons, there are lots of regular balloons that are shaped into all sorts of things like animals, cartoon characters, beer mugs and even some of your favorite movie characters like “Star Wars.” It’s a lot of fun to see all the different shapes that can be made from the balloons.
The Grand Finale
Every night there is a grand finale to the end of the day. You’ll be able to watch the evening glows as well as a spectacular fireworks and laser light shows. Just before dusk, the pilots inflate their hot air balloons similar to what they do right before dawn. The balloons stay tethered to the ground, and once night falls, the pilots ignite the burners so that the balloons are all aglow. The event is usually followed by laser light shows and an impressive fireworks display.