Nothing can replicate the feeling of lifting your head up and seeing the air thick with gigantic hot air balloons, some shaped like pigs, some shaped like Yoda. Here’s why it’s special.

The yearly festival of hot-air balloons takes place in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and is the largest of its kind. With over 500 balloons each year, it’s nine days of pure, unadulterated balloon fun. This year’s edition kicked off on October 3 with a Mass Ascension, an event in which all participating balloons launch in two waves, filling the sky with hundreds of balloons at once. This spectacular display is quite a feast for the eyes, and attracts hot-air balloon enthusiasts from all over the country!

Here’s the magnificent Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, in pictures that’ll make you wonder why you weren’t there.


1. Let’s start off with some of the more ordinary looking balloons.


2. All together though, they made the sky look spectacular.


3. Turning up the wackiness just a little bit.



4. There was a Darth Vader balloon and it was everything.


5. And you won’t believe who he was seen chilling with!



6. The show wasn’t limited to only balloons.


7. There’s something eerily cool about these strangely-shaped balloons glowing in the night.



8. Check out the glowing tortoise thingy.



9. And the cute elephant.



10. Kids looked like they were having fun.


11. Let’s dial up the weirdness a bit more. There was this cow:



12. This creepy giraffe:



13. Umm…



14. Throw in another cow and some random inflatable aliens:



15. And whatever the hell these are:


16. And the prize for the wackiest balloon goes to…


(All images via: Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta/Facebook)