Events LifeStyle New Mexico

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta has been on my radar for quite some time. I have seen countless photos of the beautiful balloons floating in the sky. Taking a hot air balloon ride has always been on my list of things I want to do. When I got the opportunity to attend the festival, I had to take it!

albuquerque International ©2015 HollyDayz

 I knew from reading the Balloon Fiesta site that arriving early was in my best interest. I chose to stay as close to the festival as possible. Driving wise it took about 5 minutes to get to the Balloon Fiesta Park from the hotel. The earlier the better, once traffic ensues what was once 5 or 10 minutes can end up taking much longer.

Dawn Patrol was going to start around 5:45 am. Dawn Patrol is when about a dozen balloons inflate and launch while it is still dark out. By going up before the Mass Accession (hundreds of balloons inflate and launch) they are able to test the wind speeds in the infamous Albuquerque Box Effect. My friend and I awoke at 3:30am and were in the car and headed to the park by 4:09am.

There were already tons of people out, but we were able to quickly park. Parking is $10 a session (there are day and night sessions.) We hopped out the car and began to take a pretty decent walk to the entrance of the park. Once inside we beelined to the tent and were able to get some food and more importantly put our names on a list in hopes of getting a ride in a hot air balloon.

Waiting in the tent ©2015 HollyDayz
Waiting in the tent ©2015 HollyDayz

While we waited for the events to start we were very happy to be bundled up. I had a scarf, hoodie, and fleece on. I wish I had brought my gloves. While I was hanging out I started talking to some of the people around me and found out that Canon, who is the main sponsor, was allowing people to borrow cameras and lenses for free! All you had to do was hand over your driver’s license.

Trying to stay warm ©2015 HollyDayz
Trying to stay warm ©2015 HollyDayz

I quickly power walked to the Canon tent to see all that they were offering. I didn’t get much time to explore as I had to get back quickly because I was waiting to find out if I was going to get a balloon ride or not. Not only was Canon lending out cameras, but they were also giving an 8GB SD card to use and keep. They even allowed you to print out photos if you wanted to.

After my friend and I got cameras, I headed back while she talked with the staff on certain features she could use. I still had to wait when I got back to find out so I headed to the bathroom. The park has a bunch of portapotties everywhere. There are no lights in there so thankfully I had light from my phone.

Yoda being inflated ©2015 HollyDayz
Yoda being inflated ©2015 HollyDayz
Frog ©2015 HollyDayz
Frog ©2015 HollyDayz

We stood around talking and watching as the park became extremely crowded. Thousands of people everywhere. It began to get lighter outside and I soon found out I was going to get a balloon ride on Humpty Dumpty. I freaked out for a second because we all know what happens to Humpty and I had to sign a waiver so it made me a bit nervous. We stood out on the field watching crews inflate balloons. I began to see so many come to life including Darth Vadar, Yoda, a frog, and so many more.

Birds ©2015 HollyDayz
Birds ©2015 HollyDayz
Mass Ascension ©2015 HollyDayz
Mass Ascension ©2015 HollyDayz
Beautiful Balloons during Mass Accession ©2015 HollyDayz
Beautiful Balloons during Mass Accession ©2015 HollyDayz

After a lot of waiting I finally got into the balloon. My friend was waiting for a phone call to see if she too would get one. I was a little nervous, but extremely excited as I hopped into the gondola with the pilot and one other lady. As we began to lift off I waved goodbye to my friend. We were headed up and it was an exhilarating experience. So much so that you will have to wait for me to write all about it!

One of my views from the hot air balloon ©2015 HollyDayz
One of my views from the hot air balloon ©2015 HollyDayz

While I was in the air my friend walked around hitting up some of the food stands set up. There are tons with all types of food. She also checked out the activities, live music performances, and so much more that was going on. They really make sure you are entertained while there. It is even more than just the balloons.

Parabatix ©2015 HollyDayz
Parabatix ©2015 HollyDayz

Once I was back to the park I found her and we watched the Parabatix guys taking off and fly through the air before we had to return the cameras back to the Canon tent. We walked around a bit more before my friend took a whirl on a mechanical bull. Afterwards we headed over to the Balloon Museum before hopping in the car to explore a bit of Albuquerque.

Balloon Museum ©2015 HollyDayz
Balloon Museum ©2015 HollyDayz

By this time I was completely exhausted and hungry. So after falling asleep several times in the car we got some food, headed back to the hotel, and crashed before getting ready for the night session. The night session was going to be all about the Balloon Glow. Heading back out to the park it was warm, but that changed pretty quickly as it began to get cold. We headed straight to the Canon tent to use some cameras again.

Team Humpty Dumpty ©2015 HollyDayz
Team Humpty Dumpty ©2015 HollyDayz

As we were walking around the thousands of people again we found my Humpty Dumpty crew. We decided to hang out with them. Each balloon has cards they hand out to the kids with a picture of the balloon. My friend decided to hand them out to the kids, in exchange they had to tell us a joke, sing, or dance. We had a lot of fun. Unfortunately the skies looked very unsettling and the winds were a bit strong so the Balloon Glow was cancelled. So we helped them fold the balloon back up, which I had experience in doing from earlier in the day.

Humpty Dumpty laid out ©2015 HollyDayz
Humpty Dumpty laid out ©2015 HollyDayz

Although it was disappointing that the Balloon Glow wasn’t going to happen the fireworks display was pretty awesome! We enjoyed the fireworks going off in two different directions. We decided to leave the launch field and head over to the activities and food area. We had to use the lights from our phones to get there as the launch field is extremely dark and there are people all over sitting on the grass.

Some of the fireworks display ©2015 HollyDayz
Some of the fireworks display ©2015 HollyDayz

We played games and won some great prizes. We danced and sat down on some swinging chairs to rest our feet. It was a lot of fun walking around and checking everything out. There were a lot of places to purchase food and items. We were really tired, and my friend wanted to head back to Old Town so we left the Fiesta.

The Balloon Fiesta was everything I expected and more. I truly understand why people make it a tradition to go every year. It is so much fun and I wish I had more days there to experience it all. I hope to go back next year. The Balloon Fiesta happens every October over a period of 2 weeks.

Have you ever been to the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta?

Disclaimer: Thank you to the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta for having me. All opinions and thoughts are my own.

69 Comments

  • Lindsay

    I am from Albuquerque and look forward to the balloon fiesta every year! It sounds like you had an amazing time. There is really nothing like it!

    Reply
    • Holly Dayz

      I really liked Albuquerque. Everyone was so nice! The fiesta is truly one of a kind.

      Reply
  • Toni | 2 Aussie Travellers

    Oh how adorable are they! I love the bird one.

    Reply
    • Holly Dayz

      They had so many amazing balloons..hundreds.

      Reply
  • Mary

    Oh how fun! I’m not sure if my kids or I would enjoy that more. Not that into the chilly weather but I think it would be worth it. How long do they stay up for?

    Reply
    • Holly Dayz

      It was a lot of fun. It depends on the weather. I saw some come down faster than others.

      Reply
  • Betsy Wuebker | PassingThru

    Every time I see photos of this event, I get such a happy feeling. Truly wonderful!

    Reply
    • Holly Dayz

      It really is a happy fun things to see.

      Reply
  • Stefan

    A giant yoda balloon? An awesome fireworks display? I’m sold 🙂

    Reply
    • Holly Dayz

      Yea they also had Darth Vadar.

      Reply
  • Mar Pages

    What an awesome festival! Something childish and magical about watching balloons in the air

    Reply
    • Holly Dayz

      It is a beautiful site to see hundreds of balloons in the air.

      Reply
  • McCool Travel

    Gorgeous balloon pictures. The ABQ festival has been on my radar for so long and it is always nice to read (and see) accounts from people who have been.

    Reply
    • Holly Dayz

      Thank you. I hope you get the opportunity to go. I would love to go back again!

      Reply
  • Two Can Travel

    Looks like a really interesting festival! Will have to check it out next time we are in the States!

    Reply
    • Holly Dayz

      It is very fun and colorful.

      Reply
  • Laura

    That’s a festival I would love to go to! In Walla Walla, Washington, where I grew up, there is a balloon stampede every year. The balloons are cool, but they aren’t as fun as the ones you’ve got here. I love the frog!

    Reply
    • Holly Dayz

      I think Albuquerque has corned the market for unique balloon festival.

      Reply
  • beckyginther

    This looks so amazing! I love all of the colors and the fun balloons. I would love to be able to visit someday.

    Reply
    • Holly Dayz

      It was a lot of fun. You must go at least once.

      Reply
  • JessicaTakesontheWorld

    Wow add that one to my bucket list!

    Reply
    • Holly Dayz

      Good choice for your list.

      Reply
  • Winederlusting

    Did not even know about the festival. I’ve seen so many pictures on Insta of festivals in Turkey some locations throughout Europe that focus on balloons, but did not know the same could be done so close to home. Thanks for sharing!!

    Greig

    Reply
    • Holly Dayz

      Yea, I would love to see the balloon in Turkey, but this was truly unique and special.

      Reply
  • mags

    This looks like such an amazing event. I’ve always wanted to go to the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta!

    Reply
    • Holly Dayz

      You should try and go next year if you can.

      Reply
  • BOBBI GOULD

    Adding to the bucket list FOR SURE! What an amazing time!

    Reply
    • Holly Dayz

      Great add to the bucket list, it is worth it.

      Reply
  • Lindsay Nieminen

    I was lucky enough to get to ride in a hot air balloon but I have never been to a festival! I would love to attend the festival! The USA has so many amazing things to do!

    Reply
    • Holly Dayz

      The ride was amazing and special. The balloon fiesta is one of a kind. You should try and go one year.

      Reply
  • Carolann & Macrae - One Modern Couple

    Looks and sounds like so much fun! Definitely would have been a bit nervous for Humpty Dumpty as well!

    Reply
    • Holly Dayz

      It was a lot of fun. I enjoyed it.

      Reply
  • blondvoyage.com

    Wow! I’ve never heard of this! I’ll have to add it to the bucket list!

    Reply
    • Holly Dayz

      You should, it is a great experience.

      Reply
  • HayliDJ

    I have never heard of this but it looks like SO much fun!!!

    Reply
    • Holly Dayz

      It was a lot of fun.

      Reply
  • olga

    This is one of my favorite festivals ever! My best friend treated me to it for my birthday and the experience was incredible. It’s on my list of things to do one more time in my lifetime.

    Reply
    • Holly Dayz

      I am glad you got the chance to experience. I would love to go back as well.

      Reply
  • Nancy Laws (@chicmompreneur)

    How fun!I have never been to a balloon festival but I bet my little ones would love it too…

    Reply
    • Holly Dayz

      You would love it too. It is a sight to see

      Reply
  • Bree

    What an incredible event! I would have loved to experience the hot air ballon! It is on my bucket list.

    Reply
    • Holly Dayz

      It is an amazing experience. I hope you get the opportunity.

      Reply
  • Antoinette Cain

    This event looks like a bunch of fun. Just the type of thing that I enjoy with my children. I’d bet the site of the balloons in the air is a beautiful thing.

    Reply
    • Holly Dayz

      It was a lot of fun. It is def a sight to see hundreds of balloons going up.

      Reply
  • Arnitris Strong

    This looks so fun! I will have to see if there is a similar event in my area. Beautiful photos!

    Reply
    • Holly Dayz

      Thank you it was fun.

      Reply
  • Nicole Brewer

    This looks like a fabulous time! Thanks for sharing these awesome photos.

    Reply
    • Holly Dayz

      It was and thank you

      Reply
  • Aisha Johnson Adams

    Those balloons look pretty amazing. It looks like you had a lot of fun. You cover some great things on your blog.

    Reply
    • Holly Dayz

      Thank you, I appreciate that. I had a lot of fun.

      Reply
  • thestyleperk

    Never heard of this, but looks really cool! Nice photos!

    Reply
    • Holly Dayz

      Thank you. It was a great experience.

      Reply
  • Mimi "MimiCuteLips" Green

    This sounds like my cup of tea. I went to a balloon festival outside of the DC area and it was really cool. Cannon is the real MVP though, that was nice. Your pictures are great.

    Reply
    • Holly Dayz

      Thank you. Canon definitely gets the MVP award! That was such a great thing for them to do!

      Reply
  • Christine K. St.Vil (@MomsNCharge)

    Woah! This looks ah-mazing! I’m definitely adding this to my list, would make a perfect family trip with the kiddos. I absolutely LOVE the fact that Canon was on site to “rent” out cameras…and you got to keep the SD cards? Love it!

    Reply
    • Holly Dayz

      It was an amazing time. I hope you and the family go one year. Canon was really great for doing that. Yea I got 2 SD cards!

      Reply
  • LaVonndra Johnson

    Oh wow, this looks amazing. My daughter would love something like this.

    Reply
    • Holly Dayz

      I bet she would because every kid I saw was having a blast.

      Reply
  • Chasing Joy

    Wow! This looks like so much fun. I’d love to attend.

    Reply
    • Holly Dayz

      It was. I hope you do.

      Reply
  • Camesha | Mama Motivator

    I have not been to the festival before. I want to make it to the one in San Diego. My friend just moved to New Mexico. She was at this festival and could say enough about how much she loved it.

    Reply
    • Holly Dayz

      It is a lot of fun you have to go one day.

      Reply
  • Jonna Scott-Blakes

    This sounds so cool! I’ve always wanted to ride in a hot air balloon too!

    Reply
    • Holly Dayz

      The experience was so peaceful and beautiful.

      Reply
  • everydayeyecandy

    I have a friend who lives in Albuquerque and I love seeing her photos of this event! One day I will make it out to attend myself!

    Reply
    • Holly Dayz

      Oh you must go with her one year then.

      Reply
  • Allison Jones

    I’ve never seen so many balloons! That looks really cool.

    LiveLifeWell,
    Allison

    Reply
  • Holly Dayz

    It was such a fun and colorful sight to see.

    Reply
  • Exploring Albuquerque - HollyDayz Travel

    […] New Mexico has a lot to offer. Besides Breaking Bad, Albuquerque is also known for their annual Balloon Fiesta, which was my reason for visiting. I really wanted the opportunity to explore the city. I was only […]

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