Albuquerque Balloon Festival

The Albuquerque Balloon Festival

Showcasing Hundreds Of Hot Air Balloons

The annual Albuquerque Balloon Festival is an internationally well-known fall festival based in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Typically held in the first week of October, thousands of spectators and hot air balloon pilots and crews are drawn to the city.

It’s an event that allows international and local hot air balloon makers to showcase their products, and for pilots and crews to win prizes and bragging rights.

Albuquerque is known for hosting the largest hot air balloon event worldwide and is called "the ballooning capital of the world".

History of Albuquerque Balloon Festival
While the Albuquerque Balloon Festival is now a staple event of the city, it has not always been so. It all started in 1972 when KOB Radio (a local radio station) decided to celebrate their 50th anniversary by launching hot air balloons.

Albuquerque balooning, albuquerque balloon fiesta

Sid Cutter gave permission to Dick McKee, the owner of the KOB Radio station, to use his personal hot air balloon for the stunt. Because Mr. McKee wanted to make this a huge event, he invited more hot air balloons to participate and reached a final total of 19 participants. Sadly, launch day saw only 13 balloons launching due to poor weather and a lack of trained pilots.

On a side note, Mr. Cutter passed away in June 2011 after having ushered in one of the most unique festivals in the world. His life saw almost 40 years of balloon-based success.

The first Albuquerque Balloon Festival was held at the Coronado Center Shopping Mall’s parking lot on April 8, 1972. It was considered a successful event because 20,000 locals and tourists arrived at the festival site.

Albuquerque ballooning, hotair balloon

Because of the remarkable success and heavy spectator turnout, Albuquerque led the prestigious World Hot-Air Balloon Championships in 1973. Albuquerque attempted to host the event again in 1974, but the event was re-scheduled to October.

In order to show support, the Albuquerque Balloon Festival was also moved to October. In doing so, pilots and event coordinators found out that hot air balloons respond much better to the weather and air conditions in Albuquerque in October, and the festival has remained there ever since.

There's Lots of Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta Goodies Here!

The Dawn Patrol
The Dawn Patrol is a trademark of the Albuquerque Balloon Festival. In this particular event, a dozen balloonists launch their lighted hot air balloons before the sunrise. They perform the Dawn Patrol Show on Mass Ascension days, which includes choreography and music soundtracks. The balloons light up the night sky like little Chinese Lanterns and provide an excellent spectacle. However, the Dawn Patron is not just for entertainment purposes; it also helps participants know the wind speeds and wind directions before the main event.

The Balloon Glow
The Balloon Glow is similar to the Dawn Patrol, but it takes place at dusk. The hot air balloons are tethered to the ground, and as they are filled with hot air, they flicker and glow in a soft choreography. There are food and drinks and it’s an event visitors really enjoy. Wear a coat, though, because fall nights in the desert get chilly.

Mass Ascension
The Mass Ascension is probably the most well known part of the Albuquerque Balloon Festival. As long as weather conditions permit, there is a mass ascension every day of the event, starting around sunrise. Because of the size of the event the hot air balloons go up in “waves”. The first set of balloons will take off, then 30 minutes later the next, then 30 minutes after that the last. This allows the balloons a chance to get out of the way and not crowd each other. Crowded conditions can lead to accidents and crashes.

Albuquerque ballooning, hotair balloon

The Competitions
There are several competitions with large prizes at stake during the festival.

The most popular is the Fiesta Challenge. In this game, hot air balloon pilots try to drop a marker within a target zone.

The America’s Challenge Gas Balloon Race is basically a hot air balloon race, and the winner is the pilot that flies his balloon the furthest from the starting point.

The most emotional event is the Flight of the Nations Mass Ascension. During it, several international countries launch their balloons while singing their national anthem and waving their national flag. Here, the creativity of each country is being measured.

There are also other special events such as speed competitions and exhibitions. It's important to remember weather conditions play a large part; if they are poor, the events will be canceled, so check the website daily to ensure the show you want to see is on schedule.

Availability of Tickets
Tickets for the Albuquerque Balloon Festival are always available through the Balloon Fiesta Website and their main office.

Additionally, there are Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum tickets, tickets for the park and ride service, and more. All the tickets are Available Here.

Related Pages:
Albuquerque Attractions
Albuquerque Information
Travel To ABQ