Over the course of a week in New Mexico, the clear blue skies will treat you to hundreds of hot air balloons decorating the sky during the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta!
From October 1st to 9th, you’ll be witnessing mammoth hot air balloons in all shapes and sizes take to the skies to provide a spectacle that you might not find everywhere. This is the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, which takes place each year at the famous Sangre de Cristo mountains near Santa Fe. The event is a festivity for all ages. Activities at the festival range from balloon races, parades etc. Die hard ballooners, who are passionate about their craft, hole up for the entire two weeks of the event in Albuquerque.
The Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta began in 1972 with a mere 13 balloons. That is minuscule compared to the scale of the event today. In 1975, the World Hot Air Balloon Championships merged with the fiesta, causing its reach and size to expand. The fiesta grew every year in number until ultimately in 2000, officials had to put a limit to the number of balloons taking part to only 750 balloons.
The benefit of this limitation helped in emphasising on the quality over quantity aesthetic. People have been coming up with wackier designs for the balloons ever since. The event, which takes place on the 78 acre park, sees a footfall of over 100,000 people dotting the park hoping to get the best view of the balloons. The sensation of watching dozens of enormous glowing lanterns float up into the dark night sky, touching down shortly after the sun rises, is a peaceful and beautiful sight.
At 7:15 in the morning, the first batch of balloons take off in a planned aerial formation. Launch directors, also known as “Zebras” because of their black-and-white-striped outfits, serve as traffic controllers, coordinating the launch so balloons leave the field in a safe and organised manner. Though the morning events gives you an idea of the scale of the event and the massive size of the balloons, the evenings are way way better!
The evening events start at around 5:45 with the famed “Balloon Glow“. It’s when all the balloons light their burners at the same time. It’s perhaps the most spectacular single moment in all of Balloon Fiesta. The balloon glow is followed by a really impressive display of fireworks late in the night.
One of the best parts about the Balloon Fiesta is the fact that even with high levels of security and rigorous safety regulations, attendees get to go up to any balloon that they like and see them lift off up close and personal. That’s an experience you can’t view from far away. You can go and talk to the people who are flying the balloons and make some new friends as well.
For those of you who are not satisfied with the idea of just looking at the balloons, you can contact the Rainbow Ryderz, the official balloon riding service at the event. The demand for rides is very high which is quite expected, so you’ll make your reservations well in advance if you hope to snag a couple of seats for the ride of a lifetime. Also, the rides come at a steep price, so be prepared to shell out some money!
The Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta is a grand spectacle of bright colours, huge balloons and amazing people. It’s a perfect testament to the fact that humans will never be content with staying limited to the ground.
So this is your chance to soar to greater heights and look at life from a new perspective!