Every year thousands of people flock to New Mexico for the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, a nine day event that is the largest hot air balloon festival in the world. The Fiesta began in 1972 as part of a 50th birthday celebration for KOB Radio and consisted of 13 balloons with around 20,000 spectators from the surrounding states. Today, hundreds of thousands of guests from around the world visit to see the magical images created by the hundreds of balloons painting the sky. Because of all these amazing visuals the Balloon Fiesta is one of the most photographed events on the planet.
With the festival housed in a 365 acre custom designed park, there is a ton of room for all the balloons as well as spectators. One of the Balloon Fiesta’s biggest events are the Mass Ascensions; when all of the balloons in the festival coordinate a complete launch in two waves, filling the sky with hundreds of balloons. There is also the Special Shape Rodeo, a popular event with families, which features uniquely shaped balloons launched in unison. From flying houses to bottles of soda, you will see all kinds of interesting hot air balloons. Balloon Glows take place at night when large numbers of balloons stay grounded and illuminate the field with their propane burners, there is also the “Glowdeo” when this is done by the specialty shaped balloons. The “balloon glows” were invented in 1972 when local pilots wanted to thank the residents of Albuquerque and are now held across the world. The Fiesta Challenge lets balloonists compete to drop a marker closest to a target. Another amazing sight is the Flight of the Nations Mass Ascension when balloonists from different countries launch in groups with their national anthem playing and waving their flags.
Admission to the Fiesta is usually around $6 and free for children 12 and under. The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is also a major showcase of New Mexican history and culture with numerous exhibits available for visitors to see. Be sure to bring lots of film as there will be many photo opportunities including the rarely seen inflation and take off procedures. You can also gather at the many landing sites throughout the city to see the balloons come in for their landings. The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is definitely a unique and interesting festival the whole family can enjoy.
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