Kids of all ages from around the world come to the Balloon Fiesta held on the first week of October. They walk among the balloons, talk to the pilots to score trading cards and see hot air balloons fill the sky. According to balloonfiesta.com, the event boasts “the largest ballooning event on earth, the most photographed event on earth, and the largest annual international event held in the United States.” It started in 1972 with 13 balloons at a mall parking lot. Forty-three years later, it attracted 550 balloons on a 78-acre launch field at Balloon Fiesta Park in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
The components of a hot air balloon are the wicker basket that holds the passengers, the burner that heats up the air and the balloon envelope which hold the warm air. Warmer air rises in cooler air. The cool air from mountains of Albuquerque moves down to the valley which creates a perfect climate. All you need is a normal wind condition. As the wind blows south, the balloons travel with it. When the sun warms up the atmosphere, the balloons travel downward and the pilot steers it back to the wind blowing north, hopefully, towards the launch field. The carnival atmosphere is filled with people walking up and down the main street looking to cure their cravings for curly fries, funnel cakes, and Cuban corn pancake called arepas. After a meal, there is always booth to visit that gives free samples such as Blue Buffalo dog food. Take a chance on a raffle ticket to win a quilt made by New Mexico Quilter’s Association. Buy some balloon themed souvenirs. Be on television while the ever charismatic, weatherman Steve Stucker from Channel 4, broadcast the event live. The morning sessions starts at 6:00 am until 9:45 am when you can see Dawn Patrol show, morning glow, laser light show, and the famous mass ascension. The evening sessions starts at 1:30 pm until 9:00 pm when you can see special shape balloons, laser light show, fireworks, and musical performances. The last Saturday night is the Music Fiesta when they have a famous band play. Albuquerqueans knows how to throw a party!
If you go, here are some advice. Find out the closest park and ride from your hotel or home, then purchase the tickets online in advance. Perhaps, book your hotel closest to the park and ride location. You can choose to pay for the Gondola or Chaser’s Club dining areas located on either end of the field which is perfect for elderly folks needing to eat, sit and enjoy the event without the crowd. Bring cash or ATM machines are available on the main street. Dress warm in layers and wear sturdy shoes. Remember that green flag means it’s a go for the balloons to launch, so plan to see the event at least twice just in case you don’t see them go up the first time. Lastly, enjoy this happy place and embrace every moment of being a kid again