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)

2024 October 5-13
2025 October 4-12
2026 October 3-11
2027 October 2-10
2028 October 7-15

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 7-15, 2023.

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 4:00-4:30 am. During evening events, try to be at the park by 4:00 pm. Gates open at 4:30 am and 3:00 pm.

Because of our 48-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 consists of all activities at the park in the morning (4:30 AM to noon) or all the activities in the evening (3 PM to 9 PM). Reminder: There are no evening sessions Monday-Wednesday as well as the second Sunday. An example  of a session 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 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 ash can melt the balloon envelope. Also, pockets of propane can settle in areas around the field. This odorless gas can ignite.

We have general parking lots on the north and south ends of the park, it is $20 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. Please have cash ready as you enter the parking areas, as we do not accept credit or debit cards for parking fees. 

Yes, we offer Park and Ride locations throughout Albuquerque. Please go to our website at for times and up to date locations. 

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. Please note that there will also be metal detectors at entry gates. 

Yes, but you cannot bring glass or alcohol and your bags or coolers will be searched.

Besides the balloons, there are tons of things to do! The Main Street Stage showcases various bands and entertainment and the Balloon Discovery Center is a hands-on, interactive experience where you can learn about the sport and science of ballooning. Be sure to stop by and check out the chainsaw carvers in action, visit the Artisans at Balloon Feista tent, or stroll down main Street to check out all of the food, merchandise, sponsors, and exhibitors.

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 ($20 per session) each time you park. ADA parking is not guaranteed and is first come, first served. Please review our ADA Accessibility page for additional information. 

If you have a valid handicap placard, you can request one of our reflective placards so that it is more visible to those directing traffic.

To request a reflective placard, please send us a copy of your valid handicap placard along with your name, mailing address, and phone number. We will mail a reflective placard to you towards the end of August. 

Requests may be made via email to:
Please include the subject line "ADA Placard Request"

Requests may also be made via mail to:
4401 Alameda NE
Albuquerque, NM 87113
ATTN: ADA Placard Request

Again, please note that all parking, including ADA parking, is first come, first served and is $20 per session.

Mobility scooters, wheelchairs, strollers, and wagons are available on a limited basis for on-site rental. Rental locations are situated near the North and South Information Booths. Advance reservations can be made by calling 262-677-2696 or online:
Morning Session Reservations
Evening Session Reservations 

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,  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.

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 the muted skylight. Photographers call this "the jewel box effect". Twilight and night are low levels of light that require high-speed film or low light exposure settings on your digital device.

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 and a piggy bank.

Please visit our Ticketing Page for the most up to date information on Balloon Fiesta tickets. General admission tickets can 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), a private parking ticket, a 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,, or 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, catered food and dedicated restrooms. 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 or 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 more than 360 acres. The launch field (grassed area) is more than 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

Souvenirs may be purchased online at, at Balloon Fiesta's gift shop year-round, or at the Park at an official Balloon Fiesta Souvenir tent.

Contact Visit Albuquerque for the best lodging options at ABQ Hotels 

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 sunscreen. Bring appropriate eye protection, and wear hats and gloves as the mornings can be very cold.  For further weather information, visit

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. Space reservation for 2023 opens on January 11, 2023.

Yes. There are food concessions at Balloon Fiesta Park serving a variety of foods. There is more than a third 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 effect.

Visit the website, the official website of the Albuquerque Convention & Visitors Bureau to browse an online version of the Official Albuquerque Guest Guide, or request a printed copy by calling the Bureau offices at (800) 284-2282.

Email us for the quickest response online, or write to:

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta 
4401 Alameda Blvd. NE 
Albuquerque, NM 87113

Toll-Free: 1-888-422-7277 
Phone: (505) 821-1000 
Fax: (505) 828-2887

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