What is the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta?

 Editorial credit: Richard Susanto / Shutterstock.com. A group of hot air balloons at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.
Editorial credit: Richard Susanto / Shutterstock.com. A group of hot air balloons at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.

Description and History

The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is an annual international hot air balloon festival held in October in Albuquerque. The Fiesta held at the Balloon Fiesta Park lasts for nine days.The first of the fiesta took place in 1972 during the 50-year anniversary of the 770 KOB radio. During the first event, only thirteen balloons were available, falling short of the highest number of balloons ever flown at an event (England held the record at 19 balloons). Cutter Flying Service and the radio organized the event, which attracted more than 20000 spectators. Hosting of the first world hot air balloon championships in February 1974 established Albuquerque as an international destination for ballooning.

Growth of the Fiesta

The fiesta began as a small ceremony at a parking lot in 1972. The following year, the balloon festival became an international event and had since risen to become the world’s largest balloon fiesta. The success of the fiesta is linked to the appropriate weather conditions that favor balloon flying and the immense support the event receives from the local and international community regarding funding and participation. The event is scheduled for the first week in October when the morning temperatures are cool thus allowing efficient launching of the balloons. Also contributing to the success of the fiesta is the Albuquerque box with its predictable wind patterns, which enable balloonists to navigate their craft.


The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta consists of a series of events including the dawn patrol, mass ascensions, and gas balloon races, and balloon glows in the morning and evening, and competitions. The dawn patrol involves an early morning balloon launch by a dawn patrol crew, which helps in assessing the weather conditions and wind properties. The mass ascension is probably the biggest event of the fiesta with the balloons launching in two waves. This mass launch creates a colorful balloon-filled sky, which is a unique and attractive site for local and international tourists. Specialists and directors are present during the event to coordinate the launching and landing of balloons. Besides the balloon-related activities, the fiesta includes events such as car shows, carnival games, dance performances, music fiesta, the balloon discovery, and children’s rides.


The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is a major tourist event attracting about a million visitors each year. The events held during the fiesta are a major attraction as well, the illuminated balloon atmosphere created in the night during balloon glows. Tourists enjoy taking photographs of this event making it the most photographed event in the world. Tourists attending the festival have had great impact both directly and indirectly on the locals through the creation of employment and trading opportunities for shopping, food and accommodation facilities.

Attending the Fiesta

The fiesta attracts thousands of individuals from all over the world including tourists and participants of the event. To witness and enjoy the event first hand, one has to book tickets for each session. These tickets can be obtained online from the official website (balloonfiesta.com) or at the gate. The tickets are a must-have to enter the park. Typically, there are fourteen sessions throughout the fiesta with a variety of family-friendly events to choose from. To have the best experience during the fiesta, visitors are advised to check the schedule to attend the events they are interested in and avoid missing exciting activities.


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