Whether you are an Airstreamer, an RV'er or you simply want to attend an epic event...I've compiled some information pertinent to attending the Annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta!
I don’t know how we got so lucky as to be a part of the 𝗔𝗶𝗿𝘀𝘁𝗿𝗲𝗮𝗺 𝗕𝗮𝗹𝗹𝗼𝗼𝗻 𝗙𝗶𝗲𝘀𝘁𝗮 𝗥𝗮𝗹𝗹𝘆 during our 3rd year of traveling, in 2019, but we did and we 𝗹𝗼𝘃𝗲𝗱 it and we cannot wait to go back!
You don’t have to be a hot air balloon aficionado to enjoy this amazing event…here are my quick takeaways which might 𝗵𝗲𝗹𝗽 𝘆𝗼𝘂 enjoy it even more…
• if you can, come in an 𝗥𝗩…we were lucky to get into a coveted Airstream lot, but there are RV’s of all types surrounding the launch field! I can only imagine how much stress it would be to deal with traffic in Albuquerque during their annual fiesta. I know they manage it well, with shuttles and parking areas, etc…but being in an RV allows you to be in easy walking distance, especially nice if you want to see the dawn patrol in your pjs while holding your mug of coffee or cocoa (yup, it me!)!
• see the 𝗱𝗮𝘄𝗻 𝗽𝗮𝘁𝗿𝗼𝗹! It’s the first launch of every day and it’s pretty spectacular to see those early balloons light up in the field and ascend into the dawn light. You’ll be surprised how many others are on the field in those wee hours, but you’ll understand it once you see how hypnotic and beautiful it is!
• even if the balloons cannot launch (because of weather), go down on the field! Many of the balloons stay there in hopes of the green light to go, but while they are there it’s a great time to get 𝘂𝗽 𝗰𝗹𝗼𝘀𝗲 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗽𝗲𝗿𝘀𝗼𝗻𝗮𝗹 with the tremendous balloons and the wonderful crews that come from all over the world to fly.
• bring 𝗯𝗶𝗸𝗲𝘀! They do not allow bikes on the field, for good reason, but there is a great bike path system all around the field and one that goes into town! We didn’t go into town the first time we were at the event but we will next time for sure. (I heard about a great margarita place just down the path *hic!)
• go to the balloon 𝗺𝘂𝘀𝗲𝘂𝗺! It’s pretty amazing! They showcase some of the very first balloons & gondolas and it is so mind boggling to imagine the innovative minds that dream up these things!
• check the schedule for the 𝗳𝗶𝗿𝗲𝘄𝗼𝗿𝗸𝘀! They’re awesome…as are the other mini events that take place throughout the day!
• hang out at your RV and there is a good chance, no matter where you are, you’ll have 𝗯𝗮𝗹𝗹𝗼𝗼𝗻𝘀 𝗿𝗶𝗴𝗵𝘁 𝗼𝘃𝗲𝗿𝗵𝗲𝗮𝗱! Albuquerque has what they call a “box” effect wind pattern…where the balloons launch into one altitude which carries them in one direction then ascend farther into a wind that shifts them back the other way! A good balloon pilot can follow that pattern for quite awhile and make three or four passes before they land! And they land everywhere!
• watch the hydrogen balloons launch for the start of the 𝗔𝗺𝗲𝗿𝗶𝗰𝗮’𝘀 𝗖𝗵𝗮𝗹𝗹𝗲𝗻𝗴𝗲 𝗚𝗮𝘀 𝗕𝗮𝗹𝗹𝗼𝗼𝗻 race. It’s a distance race…and teams from all over the world enter. The team introductions are pretty cool, each with their country’s anthem, and it’s incredible to imagine them flying 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘥𝘢𝘺𝘴 and sometimes clear into Canada!
• 𝗽𝗹𝗮𝗻 𝗲𝗮𝗿𝗹𝘆! Tickets to the fiesta itself can be purchased at the gate, as available, but they encourage pre-purchasing tickets on the website, starting April 2022. Reservations for hotels should be considered early in the year...and for an RV spot you need to be very prepared to snatch one up early...on JANUARY 5TH, 2022 at 9 a.m. MT they go live on the balloon fiesta website.
Last few tips...dress in layers (the weather is chilly in the mornings & evenings), wear comfortable shoes, bring water and snacks...and a phone &/or camera! Enjoy!