The menus vary through the 9-day event, and due to seasonality and market changes, we do not publish the menus in advance. However, below are sample menus, to give you an idea of the selection offered at a morning or evening session.
If you attend a morning session, BREAKFAST is included:
If you attend an evening session, DINNER is included
The Gondola Club is able to accommodate some dietary restrictions (such as vegetarian, gluten free, dairy-free, or egg free). However, due to the nature of the event, we’re unable to accommodate more stringent restrictions. If you have dietary requirements, please contact us at . Please note your name, the nature of your restrictions, and the date and session/s of your attendance.
No. Balloon Fiesta is held at a city park, so most of the venues at the event are temporarily housed in festival tents. The Gondola Club includes a large tent, which houses the registration desk, gift shop, and foodservice area, and small dining area. The dining area seats approximately 70-80 people, whereas the overall Gondola Club capacity is 500+. Most of the dining tables are located outdoors, in a beautiful grassy area. This is an overhead photo taken at the 2015 event, giving you a view of the layout.
Both the Gondola Club and Chasers’ Club are ticket-only dining areas. Below is a comparison of inclusions.
|Chasers' Club||Gondola Club|
|Price||$45||$100 (Some discounts available)|
|Meal||Light buffet including one hot item||Full hot and cold buffets|
|Bar (excluding Sunday mornings at both locations)||Cash bar||Open bar|
|Parking||Not included||Included for Private Gondola Club parking lot|
|Restrooms||Event facilities nearby||Private indoor restrooms|
|Location||Northeast corner of launch field||Southwest corner of launch field|
|Entertainment||Strolling performers and some live musical performances during select sessions||Live musical performances during all evening sessions|
|Courtesy Shuttles||Not included||Gondola Club Courtesy Shuttles for on-site transportation|
|Collectible Lapel Pin||Not included||Included|
|Souvenir Gift||Not included||Included with full priced tickets (Not included with group rate tickets, or discounted mid-week tickets)|
While we endeavor to provide an upscale experience at the Gondola Club, the atmosphere is definitely casual. The Balloon Fiesta is ultimately a very large balloon rally, which is an outdoor event. Most of the Gondola Club seating is outdoors on grass, and the indoor portion is inside a tent.
Additionally, New Mexico is very casual. Jeans, jackets, sweatshirts, and relaxed wear are entirely appropriate.
Due to the size of the Gondola Club parking lot, we can only issue 1 parking pass for every 4 people in a group, as follows:
1-4 people - 1 parking pass
5-8 people - 2 parking passes
9-12 people - 3 parking passes
13-16 people - 4 parking passes
17-20 people - 5 parking passes
If your parking pass is lost or stolen, replacement parking passes may be purchased for $75 each. (Replacement parking passes require proof of ticket purchase.)
Additional parking is available for our General Parking area for $15 per car, per session. Note that General Parking is not located near the Gondola Club.
We will not mail out parking passes for purchases made after September 17, 2017.
When taking a balloon ride, you need to arrive at the Rainbow Ryders tent very early. The Gondola Club and Rainbow Ryders are located on opposite sides of the field from each other. This makes it unfeasible to park in the Gondola Club parking lot, and then make your way across the field in time to arrive for your flight.
Additionally, your balloon ride may last a while and take you a considerable distance from the park. Packing up the balloon and returning to the field through traffic takes time and may not allow you to return to Balloon Fiesta Park until after 10:00 a.m. The breakfast buffet closes at 9:30 a.m. and the Gondola Club closes at 10:00 a.m. We are unable to extend buffet or Gondola Club hours in order to accommodate late arrivals.
A session is made up of a variety of activities within a 4-5 hour span. A separate ticket is required for each session. While we do not clear the field between the morning and evening sessions, we do close the Gondola Club and the Gondola Club parking lot. There are no activities on the field (with a few exceptions – see the Event Schedule for more detail), most concessionaires are closed, and most everyone leaves the park.
The evening events consist of balloon glows, where the balloons inflate and stay tethered on the ground. The “glow” happens when the pilot lights the balloon burner – the balloon glows as long as the burner is lit. Glows are also weather dependent. They are also followed by a beautiful laser light show, and awe-inspiring fire-works.
If your schedule allows, we recommend attending at least one morning session and at least one evening session. They are very different events, and you don’t want to miss either!
During the Mass Ascension, over 550 balloons launch in waves from Balloon Fiesta Park. The launch starts at approximately 7:00 a.m. takes 90-120 minutes. The Mass Ascensions take place on both weekends and on Wednesday.
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday are competition days. A common, but incorrect, assumption is that the Mass Ascensions are “better” than the competition days. That couldn’t be further from the truth!
Over 550 balloons fly at every event, whether it’s a mass ascension or competitions. They just fly in different formats. On the competition days, approximately 300 balloons launch at 7:00 a.m. When the competition starts at 8:00 a.m., the remaining 250+ balloons are split into 2 groups – 1 group launch from Balloon Fiesta Park and flies to targets off-site; the other group launches off-site and flies to targets located at Balloon Fiesta Park.
On the competition days, the balloons tend to be at the park much later than on the Mass Ascension days. The crowds also tend to be lighter on Competition days.
On Thursday and Friday, the Special Shape balloons are featured. Special Shape balloons participate throughout the week, but some of the newest designs arrive mid-week and are featured through the rest of the event. On Thursday and Friday, they inflate and launch with the non-competition balloons, and are then followed by the competitions.
In summary, all 550+ balloons fly each morning (weather permitting), but the schedule format changes on various days.
Balloons fly using the hot air inside the “envelope” to create “lift.” They “steer” using wind currents at various altitudes. Wind speeds of more than 10 miles per hour make inflation and flight unsafe.
It may be deceiving if the weather at ground-level appears to be calm. But the winds at higher elevations, known as the “winds aloft,” may be too strong for safe flight. In those conditions, pilots may opt to inflate their balloons but stay “static” on the ground.
Follow the directions that we mail to you. The entrance to the Gondola Club is a back entrance into Balloon Fiesta Park and will not be obvious on city maps or using GPS. If you follow the route for the Balloon Fiesta General Parking, you in to the wrong side of the park, at which point, there is no way for us to re-route you to the Gondola Club parking lot. You’ll then have to park in General Parking and make your way into the park.
Do not ask your hotel front desk for directions. They will likely give you directions to the Balloon Fiesta General Parking route.
The event Courtesy Shuttles run between the parking lots and Balloon Fiesta Park. They are intended primarily to assist those with mobility limitations.
The Gondola Club Courtesy Shuttles are for Gondola Club guests only, and offer transport from the Gondola Club to 4 locations – the North Information Booth on Main Street, the South Information Booth on Main Street, Gate 12 east of Main Street, and the Gondola Club parking lot. Due to heavy pedestrian traffic and other limitations, Gondola Club Courtesy Shuttles are only available for pick-up and delivery to those locations.
When you receive your mailing, a phone number will be included. If you happen to park at a parking lot other than the Gondola Club lot, or if you’ve been dropped off on Main Street, you can call that number and the Gondola Club will dispatch a Gondola Club Courtesy
Shuttle as soon as one is available. Again, due to heavy pedestrian traffic, it may take a while for the cart to arrive. Please be patient.