The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is a world-renowned hot air balloon festival taking over the fields and sky over Albuquerque every fall. It is known as the largest event of its kind in the world, featuring over 500 balloons each year. Thousands of spectators, pilots, and their crews come to Albuquerque, New Mexico to participate and just watch hundreds of air balloons floating over the city.
The event is usually held during the first or second week of October and lasts for nine days. Each day, early in the morning and at dawn, the sky over the Sandia Mountains is filled with hundreds of balloons varying in shapes and colors.
The Fiesta features several events and competitions, like The Fiesta Challenge, America's Challenge Gas Balloon Race, The Flight of the Nations Mass Ascension, along with other skill and speed competitions.
Throughout everyday of the festival, there is a packed program that is offered and runs from 6 am. Dawn Patrol Show to 8 pm. AfterGlow show. Mass Ascension, chainsaw carving, vintage and special interest cars display, and magical Balloon Glow in the evening will keep you in awe from sunrise to sunset.
The sunrise Mass Ascension is one of the most breathtaking sights in the world with hundreds of hot air balloons launching simultaneously into the skies. The sight of such an amount of balloons is truly striking, especially for first-time visitors. There are special launch directors, which are called zebras for their wearings, who coordinate the launch to make it safe.
About 750,000 visitors come to witness the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta each year, so do plan well in advance to join the fun. Be sure to book your room early or arrange your RV and camp at the festival grounds. In case you don't make it to the Fiesta, you can book one of the piloted balloon rides offered by a number of Albuquerque-based hot air balloon ride companies, which run all year round. Enjoy a bird's eye view of picturesque New Mexico terrain.
All the main Balloon Fiesta events take place at the Balloon Fiesta Park in northern Albuquerque, New Mexico. The park is settled west of I-25, about 12 miles (19 km) north of the Albuquerque International Sunport airport and 7 miles (11 km) north of downtown Albuquerque. You can either drive to the park and leave your car at the large parking area or hop on one of the shuttles to Balloon Fiesta Park that leave from several locations in the city and drop you off next to the field. Shuttle ticket price includes the Balloon Fiesta Park admission.