As the largest air balloon gathering in the entire world, the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta is sure to take your breath away.
There’s something romantic and liberating about watching these brightly-colored hot-air balloons sail into the sky; you feel yourself floating away with them as they disappear into the distance. But it’s not all airy fairy, either. This annual event is also a chance to showcase some of the most creative balloon ideas ever imagined: the bigger, more colourful, more creative, the better.
In 2018, the fiesta will be a week-long event from October 6 to 14, so make sure to mark your calendars. From its humble beginnings in 1972, this balloon festival has grown to be an enormous event — it’s the most-attended and most-photographed hot-air balloon event in the entire world. And why shouldn’t it be?
If you’re in Albuquerque in time to attend, or love hot-air balloons enough to travel there just to take part, you’ll get more out of the event by preparing in advance!
Where is it and how much does it cost?
The Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta is held at the Balloon Fiesta Park, at 5000 Balloon Fiesta Pkwy NE, Albuquerque, NM 87113. Directions can be found at the official website.
Tickets cost $10 per session for 13 years and older, and $45 for five sessions, which isn’t a bad price at all! Best of all, children 12 years and under are free of charge so this can be a great family bonding activity!
There are various sessions (or balloon events) held throughout the day from morning to evening, and I strongly recommend you go to at least one Dawn Patrol session. During this session, the Dawn Patrol launches a few select balloons, and it’s followed by the Mass Ascension, when all balloons are launched in the air.
How to get to the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta
There are many ways to get to Albuquerque: by plane, bus, or car among many others. However, I highly recommend considering travelling by RV (aka motorhome) to make your visit even more memorable.
You’ll have all the advantages of a road trip, plus a place to sleep and kitchen facilities for the picnics you’re sure to want while watching the balloons.
To get to the event itself, shuttle services are available from some hotels, but most people arrive by car. There are parking spaces north and south of the park where the event is held for $15 per session. There’s disabled parking available near the gates as well, with mobility equipment available for hire nearby for varying rental prices. The gates are colored and numbered, so to avoid getting lost, make sure to keep track of the color and number of the gate where you entered.
Where to stay for the Albuquerque Balloon Festival
Uptown Albuquerque is a great place to find a hotel, as many hotels are located in that area, including international names like Marriott, Hyatt, etc. After attending the event, you can opt to stay and unwind in an affordable but comfortable accommodation of your choosing.
If you’re looking for a cheaper option and don’t mind the 10-20km drive to the event site, you can check out the budget motels along the North East area. There are mid-range hotels around the South East area, which is around 15km to the Balloon Fiesta Park.
It is especially important to book your hotel early as many accommodation providers will be booked out during the event.
Also remember to check the weather before you set out on your trip — since the Balloon Fiesta is an outdoor event, it’s worth knowing what you’re in for so you can pack accordingly. Apps like Accuweather can give you an idea of what the skies will be doing for the next few hours.
What to do at the festival (apart from watching balloons)
If you want souvenir items to remember your adventure, check out the Artisans at the Balloon Fiesta. This tent is located at the north end of the main street and the Concession Row along Main street. These sites will offer you with good food and fabulous finds and keepsakes.
The more the merrier!
People go to events for various reasons. You may want to witness the festival alone or with an intimate companion, but in my experience, this event is best experienced as part of a group. Grab your friends and family and make it a shared experience you’ll talk about for years to come!
Enjoy Albuquerque while you’re there!
Your main purpose might be to see those grand balloons up in the air, but why not expand your visit? Get to know the place – not just the venue – a little bit better. Albuquerque has more to offer than just this annual balloon fest.
Since you’ll be there for a while, why not explore other parts of the area as well? This high-altitude city has amazing sights and great architectural beauties.
Apart from man-made marvels, there are also natural wonders to experience, like the Rio Grande and the Sandria Mountains. Don’t miss the chance to get to know the region!
The takeaway: up, up, and away!
With all these tips in mind, what are you waiting for? Grab your backpack and start planning your trip to Albuquerque. Bright skies and colorful balloons await!