Fall Travel: Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta
Every October, the skies of Albuquerque, New Mexico, are filled with hundreds of multicolored hot air balloons during the city’s annual international balloon fiesta. Started in 1973 with just 13 hot air balloons, the fiesta has grown tremendously. Today, many people, both balloon crews and balloon enthusiasts, travel from around the world to witness this breathtaking event.
At the balloon fiesta, you can be on the field with the balloons before they take off to fill the early morning sky with a brilliant rainbow of colors. Wander through the balloons as they are in different stages of preparing to launch: lying flat on the ground, inflating, and upright and ready to launch. While on the field, you may be able to find a crew who will let you help them prepare the balloon for launch. That is an unforgettable experience – just ask my family about the year we helped the Jack Daniels balloon launch! The atmosphere on the ground is definitely that of a fiesta. You are surrounded by hundreds of balloons and hundreds of people who are all very excited for the launch. The fall air is slightly chilly, but you may occasionally be suddenly warmed by the burner of a nearby balloon as the pilot heats the air to begin the launch. Yes, the balloons really are that close!
Enjoy a hot breakfast from the many vendors and look up into the sky directly above you at the myriad of colors and shapes and sizes. There are the balloons with the classic shape, but there are also many “special shapes.” You will be surprised and delighted when you look up and see Miss Piggy, the Creamland cow, a Jack Daniels bottle, Snow White, Angry Birds, Smoky the Bear, and even Darth Vader floating above your head.
There are different special events scheduled, so be sure to plan your trip accordingly! There are events that highlight the special shapes, balloon races, night glows (be sure to bring a flashlight!), and the very impressive Mass Ascension, when all the balloons on the field launch in two spectacular waves.
Contact your local FROSCH agent to schedule your trip to the balloon fiesta this October. The anticipation in Albuquerque in the weeks before the fiesta is palpable. Come, join the excitement, and see over 600 balloons take off into the New Mexican sky at the largest ballooning event in the world!
By Mary Therese Malone