Commonly asked questions in planning your trip to the Balloon Fiesta.
FAQ Review Video
A short video reviewing the FAQs presented by Balloon Fiesta Navigators (Volunteers)
2019 October 5-13
2020 October 3-11
2021 October 2-10
2022 October 1-9
The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is a world-renowned attraction and destination for kids of all ages. For more than four decades, the first week in October brings the smell of roasting chiles and the beautiful, magical moving picture show of hot air balloons sailing silently through the crisp fall air.
Guests from all over the world come to Albuquerque to celebrate ballooning. Literally hundreds of balloons will be taking flight from the Balloon Fiesta Park October 5-13, 2019.
From its modest beginnings in 1972 with 13 balloons launching from a shopping mall parking lot, the Balloon Fiesta has grown to a 9 day event launching from the custom-designed, 365-acre Balloon Fiesta Park. With over 500 balloons, is the largest ballooning event on earth, the most photographed event on earth, and the largest annual international event held in the United States.
Imagine 54 football fields, all put together. That's the size of Balloon Fiesta Park's 78-acre launch field! And at this Park's "playing field," there are no losing teams and no viewing stands. Guests walk the field and are part of the action.
Hundreds of thousands of smiling, upturned faces, awestruck by the spectacular beauty of hot air balloons filling the big blue morning New Mexico sky. During the glows you walk our field at nightfall and you hear the thrilling roar of hundreds of burners simultaneously igniting, turning the Park into a huge lighted Christmas tree of colorful balloons. What you can't feel until you join us is the massive joy everywhere around you.
Balloon Fiesta takes place at Balloon Fiesta Park, which is located north of Alameda Boulevard, one mile west of I-25.
Since crowds for some of our events are in excess of 80,000 people, arriving sooner is better. For weekend events, plan to arrive at the park by 4:00-4:30am. During evening events, try to be at the park by 4:00pm. Gates open at 4:30am and 3:00pm.
Because of our 47-year safety record, we are one of the only balloon (aviation) events where you are actually able to walk among the balloons and talk to the pilots. We are a hands-on event, but please be courteous to hot air balloons and do not step on or over any of the balloon fabric or equipment.
A session is all the activities that go on during a certain time frame. Balloon Fiesta has morning sessions and evening sessions. An example would be when you visit the park to see the Dawn Patrol and Mass Ascension, you would be coming to a morning session.
No, however trained and registered service animals are allowed.
There is absolutely no smoking allowed inside Balloon Fiesta Park. A lit cigarette could possibly ignite a balloon's fuel tank and an ash can melt the balloon envelope. Also, pockets of propane can settle in areas around the field. This odorless gas can easily ignite.
We have general parking lots on the north and south ends of the park, it is $15 for each session you are at the park. Each parking lot is color-coded and the gates are numbered, so please remember the color and number of the gate through which you entered the field.
No. You will need to contact your individual hotel to see if they are offering a shuttle to Balloon Fiesta Park.
Yes, but they will be searched upon entering the Park.
Yes, but you cannot bring glass or alcohol and your bags or coolers will be searched.
Besides the balloons, there is a stage located at the center of Main Street that schedules various bands and children's acts. We also have roving entertainment and interactive education at the Balloon Discovery Center. We also have a Music Fiesta concert on the second Saturday of Fiesta. It has traditionallly been a country music format with a headliner and 2-3 accompanying perfomers.
Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, Inc., organizes the Balloon Fiesta each year. It is non-profit organization with 18 full-time staff members.
Yes. Hard-surface handicap parking near the entrance gates is available for the regular parking fee ($15.00 per session) each time you park.
Located near the Information Booths, a limited number of mobility scooters, wheelchairs, strollers and wagons are available.
Courtesy shuttles also travel the length of the park and into some of the parking lots.
Zebras are Balloon Fiesta's launch directors. They help launch the balloons every morning. The reason they are called Zebras is that they wear black and white striped shirts. As the balloons are so large, the pilot cannot see what is going on above him/her, so the Zebras check the airspace above them as he/she is prepared to launch to make sure it is clear and safe to ascend.
Chase crews help the pilot inflate and deflate his/her balloon for each flight. If you are interested in being on a chase crew, you can register online at www.balloonfiesta.com, or visit the Chase Crew tower in the southeast corner of the launch field to sign up.
The Balloon Discovery Center is the educational center located at the north end of Main Street. It offers guests a chance to learn about the sport of ballooning and participate in activities highlighting the sport of ballooning.
Dawn Patrol is a group of selected balloons that launch prior to sunrise on the days of Mass Ascensions.
A mass ascension is when all 500+ balloons launch from Balloon Fiesta Park. This will take approximately 2 hours.
Albuquerque Aloft is a community flight the Friday before Balloon Fiesta starts. Registered pilots of Balloon Fiesta launch from designated elementary schools throughout Albuquerque and Rio Rancho.
Flight of the Nations is an event held during the Wednesday Mass Ascension. It honors all of the countries that are represented in Balloon Fiesta. Up to two balloons from each country launch after the "Sponsor of the Day" balloon launches. Each balloon will carry its country's flag.
They are all static displays of the balloons after sunset. The Balloon Glow is the original, it occurs on the first Sunday night, and usually has the largest number of balloons. The Night Magic Glow occurs on the second Saturday night. The Glowdeo is the static display of the Shape balloons and occurs on Thursday and Friday nights. For evening events, bring a flashlight. Also, take note of where you have parked your car. It may be more difficult to find it in the dark.
Create simpler, bolder pictures that are not cluttered with unwanted detail by moving in closer. Close-ups provide variety and add interest to pictures. Take the overall view, then a tight view, then some close-ups of the details.
The magic hour of twilight, dawn or dusk, create beautiful lighting opportunities where the warmth of "Balloon Glow" blends with the velvet blue of muted skylight. Photographers call this "the jewel box effect". Twilight and night are low levels of light which require high speed film.
The Special Shape Rodeo is two days where special shape balloons are showcased at Balloon Fiesta. Special Shape balloons are launched from Balloon Fiesta Park on those mornings along with the non-competing balloons. The Glowdeo" in the evening on Thursday and Friday are the Special Shape balloons. Special Shape balloons can be shaped into almost anything you can imagine. Some examples include a stagecoach, piggy bank or a cow.
Tickets will go on sale six months prior to the start of Balloon Fiesta (April 5, 2019). Tickets are available by calling (855) 725-1824; at Balloon Fiesta's Gift Shop at 4401 Alameda Blvd. NE or online at www.balloonfiesta.com/guest-guide/ticketing-information. General admission tickets are available at 7-11 and Costco. General Admission tickets may also be purchased at the gate on the days of the event.
The Gondola Club is offered to Balloon Fiesta guests that would like to receive some extra special treatment while they are visiting the Balloon Fiesta. Guests will receive one Balloon Fiesta admission ticket, beverages, a host bar (except on Sunday mornings), private parking ticket, gourmet buffet meal, a collectible pin, courtesy shuttle service, evening entertainment, in/out privileges into the Gondola Club area, and more. Full-price tickets include a Gondola Club souvenir. To purchase tickets for the Gondola Club visit the Gondola Club page on our website, www.balloonfiesta.com/guest-guide/gondola-club, or www.balloonfiesta.com/guest-guide/ticketing-information or call 855-725-1824. For Gondola Club group ticket sales, please call the Balloon Fiesta office at (505) 821-1000 ext. 106.
The Chasers' Club is offered to Balloon Fiesta guests that would like special treatment while they are visiting Balloon Fiesta, but at a lesser cost than Gondola Club. Guests receive one Balloon Fiesta admission ticket, beverages, cookies, and a hot food item. There is a no-host bar and evening entertainment. The club is located on the north end of the field and is an open patio area. To join the Chasers' Club visit our website at www.balloonfiesta.com/guest-guide/chasers-club or www.balloonfiesta.com/guest-guide/ticketing-information or call 855-725-1824.
All 500+ balloons should be launched in less than two hours.
Pilots compete in Balloon Fiesta Hold 'em, Key Grab, Balloon Fiesta Golf, Multiple Judge-Declared Goal, Fly-in Task, Minimum Double Drop and a Prize Grab. All competitions are based on flying accuracy rather than speed.
Balloon Fiesta Park is over 360 acres. The launch field (grassed area) is over 80 acres.
Yes, a limited number of benches, bleachers and picnic tables are available.
There are ATMs at both the north and south ends of Main Street and near the Stage in the middle of Main Street.
Most major car rental companies have an office in Albuquerque. Check the individual rental company websites for availability.
The field is located in North Albuquerque, west of I-25, approximately 12 miles north of the Albuquerque Sunport (Airport), 7 miles north of downtown Albuquerque, and 5 miles east of Rio Rancho. Latitude: 35° 11.8 N Longitude: 106° 35.8W
Generally, temperatures in the morning are around 20-40°F, warming up to about 50-70°F by noon. We suggest you dress in layers. Remember to wear comfortable walking shoes. You will be at a high altitude and are at risk for sunburn so be sure to wear your suncreen. Bring appropriate eye protection, and wear hats and gloves as the mornings can be very cold. For further weather information, visit www.balloonfiesta.com.
We have several areas for parking RVs. We are not accepting any drive-ups , we have online reservations only. You can go to the tickets and reservation tab to complete an RV reservation request.
Yes. There are food concessions at Balloon Fiesta Park serving a variety of foods. There is over 1/3 of a mile of concessions on the field. Watch the amount of alcohol that you drink. You will be at a mile-high altitude which could increase the alcohol's affect.
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