Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta
The Balloon Fiesta is a yearly festival of more than 800 hot air balloons that take flight to the sky in Albuquerque. Morning mass ascensions and evening balloon glows highlight this magnificent event that is always held the first week of October and spans two full weekends.
If you live in New Mexico, you are well aware of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta that runs for 9 days at the beginning of October each year. If you have never been, you are in for a real treat!
Kids of all ages will enjoy the many events offered during the week-long event from a morning mass ascension to an evening balloon glow. If you are in Albuquerque during Balloon Fiesta week, you will most certainly see balloons aloft over the city in the mornings. To actually go out to an event on the big field at Balloon Park is a ton of fun for the whole family!
There are morning mass ascensions and evening night glows to enjoy throughout the week at Balloon Fiesta. With good weather, morning ascensions will allow you to see the balloons inflate at dawn, take off from the field, float in the sky overhead, and land in various locations throughout the city mid morning. As there are no early risers in my family, we usually opt for the evening balloon glows. Weather-permitting, balloons begin to inflate out on the field before dusk. Though the hot air balloons do not actually take off into the sky during these evening events, they do light up the field with a “static” display. This means the pilots fire their burners which creates a magical “glow”. To see hundreds of balloons glow as the sun is setting in the sky, with the Sandia Mountains in the background, is truly magnificent. We have been taking our kids to the balloon glows for years and we all still love it just as much as the first time we went. We especially enjoy the special shape "glowdeos”-two balloon glow events that showcase all of the special shape balloons. These 2 days usually fall the last Thursday and Friday of the fiesta week. You may see a jack-o-lantern, space ship, and massive cow, to name a few. Oh, and you will not be in the bleachers watching the balloons from far away. You will be close enough to feel the heat! You are ON the field with the pilots and balloons. You will be walking around during the whole exciting process from inflation to flight. You can feel the heat of the burners, hear the roar of the propane, touch the gondola, and even shake a pilot’s hand. It’s magical.
Our family traditions include collecting trading cards for each of the balloons, visiting our favorite special shape balloons that return each year, taking photos with Storm Troopers next to the massive and intimidating Darth Vader balloon, and sharing some yummy fair type foods (breakfast burritos and mini Tom Thumb doughnuts are my family's favorite).
When the kids were small, we made sure to tuck them in the stroller or wagon with blankets and layers. The field is always extremely packed with people. The stroller always gave me comfort to know my babies were safe and not going to get separated from us. Also, kids may get tired walking the huge field that houses all of the balloons. Backpacks and outside food and drinks are allowed. No coolers are allowed in the park.
Be aware, the field can be hectic with balloon crews holding onto ropes tethering the balloons, as well as black and white "referee-dressed" launch directors, called “zebras”. Please be respectful of these referees as they are looking out for your safety as well as the balloon crew.
Keep in mind that if you venture out for a morning event, you will be arriving at the field when it is still dark for the sunrise ascension. The evening glows are the opposite. Prepare for how you will explore the field as a group and have a plan of where to meet if you get separated. Cell phones are extremely helpful here.
You will want to arrive early and plan for traffic delays. The local radio stations will run traffic reports during the morning and afternoon events. The launching of the balloons is weather permitting. For safety reasons, if there is too much wind, they will not fly. It can be disappointing when a session gets cancelled. We find it is best to check the weather before you head out to the field and be flexible. It works best to have a couple of events picked out over a few days so that if one gets cancelled, you can still go and enjoy another event.
Did you know that you can park an RV at Balloon Fiesta during the fiesta? It is a super fun way to really experience all of the different festivities. Check out our Balloon Fiesta Camping Sidetrack for everything you need to know about camping out and having full access to everything Balloon Fiesta!
The Balloon Fiesta launch field is over 80 acres! Wander as you wish alongside balloons inflating during a morning or afternoon event.