The Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta has been on our list for a while. This epic yearly event brings hot air balloons and their teams from all over the world to the beautiful New Mexican city of Albuquerque for two weeks in October. Visitors from all over make Albuquerque a fall destination and return year after year to see the Balloon Fiesta.
The Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta is huge. It is the largest balloon event in the world! It is amazing to see the mass ascensions where hundreds of balloons literally fill the sky.
There is incredible access to the balloons and the pilots. You are not only free to walk out on the field and talk to them, but you are encouraged. The teams give out balloon trading cards to the kids – and the kids love it! It was a fun geography lesson to find out where the teams were from, and it was interesting for the kids to talk to them about terrain differences in location as well as talk about their hometown if we had visited it in the past.
They were also able to be very close to see the inflation of the balloons. I didn’t do any explanation of the inter-workings of the balloons, but I let them watch and infer their own conclusions from their observations. It was fun to see them work things out in their little brains, and excitedly tell me how everything worked. I corrected a few ideas they had on the science behind what they were watching, but on the whole they were spot on.
I’m very glad I took them before their wide eyed wonder of childhood faded. It is an experience none of us will ever forget.
You should plan for 3 to 5 days if at all possible. At the very least, plan for two days with Mass Ascensions scheduled on both.
The launches are weather dependent. Too much wind or inclement weather and being in a balloon isn’t all that safe. Understandably the Balloon Fiesta errs on the side of caution. During the stretch I was there this year only one launch was scrubbed, but you don’t want to make the trip and miss out on the fun and excitement because you didn’t allot enough time.
Also, Albuquerque is awesome. There are so many cool things to do there, and I’ll be telling you all the places you can visit in between launches soon. You would be doing a great disservice to yourself and your children if you didn’t see the city. It is so much more than just a place where Bugs Bunny took a wrong turn.
You’ll see this interesting event listed on launch days at a crazy early hour – “Dawn Patrol”. It is a pre-dawn launch of balloons that helps the other pilots see what the wind patterns are like. You have to check out my photos from the Dawn Patrol we visited. It is just stunning.
This wasn’t quite a whole family trip. James kept going west after Albuquerque to hike the Grand Canyon. This was the first long trip I was by myself with the children. 4 am wakeup to get to the Dawn Patrol launch without a second adult to help was brutal. It was cold, and the kids did not want to wake up.
It was so very worth it! As soon as the balloons started inflating, any residual whining and complaints were silenced. By the time the Mass Ascension was well underway, the kids were jumping up and down they were so excited.
Disclosure – We were in Albuquerque as guests of the CVB. The opinions expressed, the happy faces and excitement about the balloons are all ours.