Up, Up, & Away: Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

Going, going, and gone. But if you have next year’s calendar, merely mark sometime during the first two weeks of October.  And then GO SEE IT!

The Special Shapes balloons are the crowd pleasers, with reason. But ALL the balloons are impressively large and colorful.  One year I saw over 800 balloons, en mass. But now the Fiesta is capped at just over 500. Still an impressive sight!

Look at the size of this predator: the pilot in the basket under its foot can barely even be seen.

Book your room months in advance.  Hotels are pricey this time of year there.  But worth it.  I recommend properties on Alameda, north of Paseo Del Norte. Sure they have those early morning van shuttles to Fiesta Park, nice if you have kids, but I prefer the mile walk: the anticipation and excitement shared with other walkers is palpable.  If you have a camper RV, there’s a great place fairly priced on Alameda as well, but book ahead.

I’ve never regretted going. However, one year we took our foreign exchange student.  I learned after that that some prefer sitting, so now we take camp chairs and blankets.  But dressed warmly, including wearing gloves and a warming thermos of hot cocoa, I prefer mingling with the crew & pilots, being asked to help inflate and then tether balloons, being next to the “referees” dressed in Zebra stripes as they orchestrate lift off in waves of alternating balloons.

Ominous characters make an occassional appearance.  And there’s  always the usuals: Dairyland’s mega huge Airebella milk cow (1 year I was assigned to tether rope her 6′ lower right teat and udder. Ouch! Sorry Bella); Disneyland sometimes sends its amazingly large, detailed Magic Castle; the brilliant red Chili Peppers Balloon is 100% New Mexico; Wells Fargo brings its massive Stage Coach, albeit with OUT the Belgian draft horses; and balloonists from Brazil brim the skies – never failing to disappoint with their absolutely unique collections of fabulous constructed creativity! The Canadian Maple Leaf is fun. “When Pigs Fly” – not 1 but 3 different pink pigs – is whimsically fun; Time Is Tick-Tocking is an orange and red and blue amazing alarm clock with face hands, and a smile that lifts your spirits as it lifts into the blue sky; there’s that huge Jimmy Deans Sausage-like yellow sun balloon that with its hand-rays waves Good Mornin’ Ya’All!  And there’s scores of others, as seen here, delighting those who braved the crowds and cold morning.  Zoom in here to see that even outrageously ugly babies look amazingly cute in the right pram.  Penguins and Blow fish swim the ocean skies above Albuquerque.  And when it wasn’t politically incorrect, Seaworld use to bring their gigantic Shamu balloon. Wowzers!

So, go. For heavens sake, GO! Plan ahead now. I’ve just booked our room.  Take cash for gate entrance tickets, the credit card lines are way too long, about $10 an adult, and backpack in some breakfast drinks & snacks and/or take some $1 bills for amazing New Mexico Green Chili Breakfast Burritos.  Do whatcha need to do, but by all means, …. go, do, see, engage, enjoy. And if you’ve already gone, well shucks, go do it again.

Be Well, Do Good.

6 thoughts on “Up, Up, & Away: Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta”

  1. Wow!
    I had no idea there was so many different HUGE, colorful balloons at this event!
    Thank you so much for bringing it to our attention and all the handy tips.
    I’m booking this trip as soon as I get home!

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