Experience the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

Brisk mornings, the smell of green chile in the air, and breathtaking views are the first clues that fall is in New Mexico. Mostly known for its on-screen cameo in the hit series Breaking Bad, Albuquerque is home to many attractions and authentic restaurants. The autumn season in New Mexico is a perfect atmosphere for a relaxing vacation. Plus, it features the annual International Balloon Fiesta you definitely don’t want to miss!

During October, the fresh morning air is ideal for hot air balloons to launch high into the New Mexico sky. Over 500 Hot Air Balloons visit the Annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta for nine days from October 5 – October 13. This Fiesta has been around for over four decades and features hot air balloons from around the world. Since starting in 1972 the Balloon Fiesta now features multiple events and vendors over the nine-day period.

Orange fish shaped hot air balloon.

Rise & Shine
To truly enjoy the Balloon Fiesta you’ll need to set your alarm extra early. Hot air balloons fly at their best during the cool morning hours. Make sure to dress in layers and bring a blanket. The mornings start out chilly but by mid-morning it will warm up considerably. To celebrate the opening day you will definitely want to be at Balloon Fiesta Park by 5 am, give yourself some extra time to get there due to heavy traffic along the way. The Dawn Patrol Show starts at 6 am. Dawn patrollers are in charge of testing the wind speed and direction at different altitudes to help guide the balloons safely.

Hot air balloons against a bright blue sky.

During the dawn patrol, walk around to the vendor booths surrounding the edges of the park. Make sure to grab a breakfast burrito or a cheeseburger from Blake’s Lotaburger, which is featured in National Geographic for the “Best Green Chile Cheeseburger in the World.”  You might start to notice a funny question after you order food in New Mexico, “Red or Green?” New Mexico is well known for its native crops of Red and Green Chile. If you’re feeling fiery order your food Christmas style, which yes, you guessed it, includes both red and green chile. There are a lot of booths surrounding the park where you can buy memorabilia, southwestern apparel, and souvenirs.

Hot Air Balloon Inflating

Hot Air Balloon Glow
The Balloon Glow is up next at 6:30 am, watch as the pilots start inflating the balloons for take-off. You can hear the loud hiss of gas tanks as these giant beauties light up. Walkthrough the grass area and get up close for some amazing Instagram worthy photos and boomerangs. Some pilots might ask for your help to hold down a balloon while it is filling up. If you plan to visit the Balloon Fiesta next year make sure to visit their volunteer website where you can actually become part of a Balloon Chase Crew or Fiesta Navigator.

Over 100 colorful hot air balloons flying high in a bright blue sky.

Mass Ascension
If the weather permits, the balloons will start rising into the sky. This is an incredible moment to witness in person. Find an open spot on the grass and enjoy the moment. Sometimes, wind speeds prevent the balloons from ascending. Be sure to check the weather before your visit. During the ascension, the Balloon Fiesta features fun activities all throughout the park. They have everything from chainsaw carving, the Team Fastrax sky-divers, and a firework show. Each day the fiesta runs from 6 am – 8 pm, weekends are the best time to visit check out their event calendar for a list of daily activities.

Hot Air Balloon Preparation

Bucket List
Cross off one of your bucket list items and schedule your very own hot air balloon ride with Rainbow Ryders. Upon arrival, the pilot will gather the crew around to discuss safety precautions and then everyone helps prepare for take-off. Once the balloon is full you’ll hop in the gondola and start to rise into the sky.

Rio Grande River in Albuquerque, NM

Enjoy the serene silence and vast views of the desert landscape. Each ride lasts about one hour and you never know where you’re going to land. Luckily, the ground crew chases the balloon in a van to pick you up at your landing point. After landing you’ll celebrate your new experience with a certificate and a champagne toast! The Rainbow Ryders crew is very knowledgable, fun, and professional.

Whether you visit day or night the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is a must-see! Take a balloon ride of your own or stay safely on the ground and watch as they soar high. October is the perfect time of year to visit New Mexico for fun events, New Mexican Cuisine, and memories to last a lifetime.

Brunette woman posing for a picture.

This post was written by Hilton Suggests Team Member, Amberly S. Are you interested in traveling to Albuquerque? Let us know if we can help you with any other recommendations. Tweet us for more great local travel tips!

More posts from Amberly S.