We arrived in Albuquerque, New Mexico (ABQ round these parts), from Chama on October 5 and spent 9 nights at an Airbnb between old town and downtown. We were here to check off another of those bucket list type things at the Annual International Balloon Fiesta, held this year from October 6 through 14.
Annual International Balloon Fiesta
We met the shuttle to the balloon park at a nearby mall parking lot at 4:30 a.m. From what we had heard about the number of people trying to attend the morning and evening sessions, it proved to be the best way to leave the driving to someone else. We were able to buy tickets to the sessions of interest the day before each morning session up until midnight, and for evening sessions before noon the evening of. That allowed us to see what the weather might be doing. While we were there, many of the night balloon events were canceled as winds seemed to come up every afternoon. Even a few of the morning balloon sessions were canceled due to wind and rain. We were mainly in ABQ to see the balloons in a mass ascension, so things like laser light shows or fireworks would not have satisfied had there been cancellations once we arrived at the park. Fortunately, the two morning sessions we attended were as scheduled although the first Saturday was crazy as the organization of everything was off a bit.
Once we arrived, we wandered out into the dark field where we could see quite a few people meandering around and sitting on lawn chairs and blankets. At one end of the field we could see there were balloons beginning to stand. As it began to get light on our first visit, we were surprised to see we were surrounded by balloonists in various stages of filling their balloons – it was magical. Hundreds of balloons took to the sky over the next couple of hours. It was worth being there just for those few hours - check that off my list! Oh, but we went again later in the week so we could see the special shape balloons and were delighted to see even more balloons take to the skies than we saw the first day. On the second visit, we wandered the field back and forth as the waves of balloons prepared to stand, then take flight – once again, magical.
Factoid: ABQ is known for the best conditions for ballooning due to the geography of the area creating the ABQ box with gentle winds blowing in a box pattern sometimes allowing balloons to return to where they launched from. This is considered the largest ballooning event in the world and takes place on a specially designed 78 acre launching field to accommodate 500 plus balloons. The morning sessions are all about the mass ascensions, while the evening sessions are about the static displays where the balloons light up but do not take off.
Thanks for joining our journey.