A month and a few days away is the time for a spectacular annual event – the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. Most people plan a year in advance for this event, but it is not too late for you to come and experience the worlds largest gathering of hot air balloons.
Don’t let anyone tell you it is too late to get lodging in Albuquerque…there are still lots of openings. If a B&B is your preference, try this Google Calendar of the Albuquerque Bed and Breakfast Association, (ABBA), Balloon Fiesta availability to see who has open dates and a room waiting for you! Besides those fine inns, there are many hotels still offering rooms you may not see listed on Expedia or Travelocity. Be diligent and give them a call. You can find the Albuquerque hotels and reviews at Tripadvisor.com. Now, about the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta…
Over 700 balloons launch from Albuquerque’s Balloon Fiesta Park during the Mass Ascensions, and even if you have seen it before it can still take your breath away. This is not an event to be watched from afar. It’s an up-close experience, where you stand right among the balloons and crews for a memory you will never forget. Some things you need to know about the Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque…
1)You will need to rise very early to get to the grounds for the Dawn Patrol, followed by the Mass Ascension, (check the times below).
2) It can be very cold at that time of the morning in October – so bring a warm fleece jacket and plan to dress in layers. By noon it will be very warm.
3) There will be good food for sale on the grounds – breakfast food too, like the best sticky buns you have ever tasted and huge breakfast burritos, to name a few. Don’t be surprised if you see people munching on smoked turkey legs and brats & onions at 6am – it is all normal.
4) There is a lot of traffic to get into the Fiesta, but don’t worry – you won’t miss anything and it will move fast. If you got a late start, then the hardest thing will happen is you’ll want to watch the balloons instead of the car in front of you. You may want to consider the park and ride solution, (check it out on the Balloon Fiesta’s website, link below).
No matter what days you choose to see the Fiesta – there will be something great going on. Balloon Glows at night, lift-offs and competitions during the day and that’s not all…Here is a sampling of the schedule. A full schedule and much more information can be found on the Official Balloon Fiesta Website.
Saturday, October 3
5:45am – 7:00am Dawn Patrol Show
6:45am – 7:45am Opening Ceremonies
7:00am – 8:30am Mass Ascension
8:00am – 5:00pm ECHO Chainsaw Carving Championship
2:00pm – 6:00pm America’s Challenge Gas Balloon Race Inflation
6:00pm – 7:30pm Twilight Twinkle Glow™
6:00pm – 8:00pm America’s Challenge Gas Balloon Race Launch
8:00pm – 9:00pm AfterGlow ™ Fireworks Show
Thursday, October 8
5:45am – 6:45am Dawn Patrol
7:00am – 8:00am Special Shape Rodeo™
7:00am – 10:00am Flying Competition & Prize Grab
8:00am – 9:00am Chainsaw Wood Carving Contest
4:00pm – 5:00pm Chainsaw Wood Carving Contest
5:45pm – 7:30pm Special Shape Glowdeo™
8:00pm – 9:00pm AfterGlow ™ Fireworks Show
Before, during and after the 10 days of the Fiesta you may also visit the exhibit, A Fiesta Patchwork: Images Through Time, which is a graphical celebration of the 37 years of this annual Albuquerque event, in pins, patches, posters, bumper stickers, video and all the other visuals that capture the magic that is Balloon Fiesta. The crowds will be big during the Fiesta, so you may want to come a day or two before, or after to really enjoy this exhibit.
Date: 9/28/08 – 2/1/10
Time: Tuesday-Sunday 9am-5pm
Address: Anderson-Abruzzo ABQ Intl. Balloon Museum
Admission: Adults $4, 65+ $2, ages 4-12 $1
Location: Balloon Fiesta Park/N. I-25
Another MUST to do during the Fiesta is the Rio Grande Arts & Crafts Festival, now in its 21st year. It is the biggest juried Art Show in New Mexico and is located very near the Balloon Fiesta Park in a tent that is 400ft long and three stories tall. You can’t miss it at the SW corner of Paseo del Norte and Interstate 25. Find out more about this show at their website, where you will also find coupons to be used at this crafty event that is held during Fiesta on the weekends – Oct 2, 3 & 4 and Oct 9, 10 & 11, 2009.
Be spontaneous! It is not too late! Come see our city and the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta – The biggest and best anywhere!
Balloon photos in this post were taken by our long time guest and friend, Ben Villmer. We will miss him this year, as he has run out of friends and relatives to bring to Fiesta, for now.
I know the best things to do in Albuquerque!
Sarah Dolk, Adobe Nido Bed & Breakfast
Expert on Destination Albuquerque and Central New Mexico!