There are only certain places in the world where you can fly a giant hot air balloon and Albuquerque, New Mexico is one of them.
The annual event started in Albuquerque 1972 with only 13 balloons in the parking lot of a mall called Coronado Center. Not very many balloons but it attracted over 10,000 guests just in the first year.
The following year was the “First World Hot Air Balloon Championship” which had 13 different countries coming to participate. This became the world’s largest balloon event and changed locations to NM State Fair Grounds.
This event has continued to grow over time and in the year 2000, there were 1,019 registered balloons. This created a record-breaking number of balloons launching into the air. The fiesta now has a dedicated location with over 350 acres called Balloon Fiesta Park.
This event has hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world that come for the first week of October to see the magical balloons fly off into the sky.
At each event, you have the privilege of walking side by side of these gigantic balloons. You can walk in between them, next to them, touch them, watch them fill up with the fans and flames. Take pictures with them like everyone else. It is estimated that there are about 25 million photos taken of the balloons by guests each year.
You can schedule to go up in a hot air balloon in the sky by a professional. Imagine seeing the whole city Albuquerque at sunrise from 1,000 feet in the air? It’s definitely one for the books.
They have special events they have added over time. There is the launch when the balloons take off from the ground at about 5:30-6:00 am. Get there early! With hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world coming to see the balloons, there is going to be a long line to get in. I would leave at least an hour or more ahead of time.
There is an event called the Special Shapes. This is where the balloons are not ordinary oval-shaped but all different shapes. They have cows, castles, skulls, Darth Vader, faces, cowboys, spider pig, turkeys, whales, penguins, you name it! All the balloons that fly in the Special Shape days are quite that, special shapes.
There is also the Night Glow which is the most amazing. This event happens only at night and the balloons remain grounded. They all fill up with flames of hot air ready for take-off but they don’t.
The Balloon Fiesta Park has no lights as it is just a giant grassy park. So, for the Night Glow, all you can see is the balloons being lit up from the huge flames filling them up and it is breathtaking. You can walk around and see all the balloons up close or find a place to park and watch them from afar.
Trust me, watching these balloons in the morning or the night is a sight you do not want to miss.