Featured writer: Lisa
Would you like to find a magical vacation experience that provides moments of wonder and unforgettable memories for your family? How about a vacation that makes you feel like a kid again? If so, you need to check out the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta in New Mexico.
The first two weekends in October are full of color, excitement, and fascination as balloons fill the sky over the city. The Balloon Fiesta is “the largest ballooning event on earth, the most photographed event on earth, and the largest annual international event held in the United States.” (balloonfiesta.com)
The Balloon Fiesta started in 1972 with 13 balloons launching from a shopping mall parking lot. Today, approximately 500 balloons lift off from a 78-acre launch field (the size of 54 football fields put together in one place). The launch field is located at the custom-designed Balloon Fiesta Park.
Our family has traveled to the Balloon Fiesta numerous times. It’s a place that’s full of happy, smiling people. No joke. It’s hard to describe the joy that erupts inside when you:
- Walk up close and personal among the balloons on the field during Mass Ascension.
- Watch the crews ready the beautiful silken balloon envelopes for inflation.
- Witness the sun rising over the mountains.
- Hear the roar of the burners and feel their warmth as they heat the air inside the envelopes.
- Watch balloons inflate and pop up all over the launch field.
- Talk to the pilots.
- Hear “Balloon Fiesta Zebras” (Launch Directors) blowing their whistles as another balloon lifts off.
- Wave to pilots and crews in the balloon basket as they ascend into the crisp morning air.
- Giggle at specially-shaped balloons.
- Capture exceptional camera shots.
- Chase balloons aloft to their landing places.
Balloon Fiesta 2012 will be held October 6-14.
Make the most of your Balloon Fiesta experience:
- Sign up to serve on an official chase crew. Chase crews help pilots inflate and deflate his/her balloon for each flight. 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. Or you can just get in your car and chase one to its destination.
- Attend a Balloon Glow. This is a night-time event. During a glow, all balloons fire their burners at the same time. Light emanates from inside the balloon causing it to “glow” in the darkness. Enchanting! Stay for “After the Glow” fireworks.
- Take a balloon ride. You can even pre-register to take balloon rides during Mass Ascension.
Check out the Balloon Fiesta 2012 Guest Guide for some really helpful info.
*Trip Tip: When we were at the Balloon Fiesta two years ago, the shuttle system (park and ride) did not work well. There weren’t enough shuttles to support the number of people who needed to get to the park. Lots of people missed out on the Mass Ascension. (Check with locals to see if this has improved.) We always drove to Balloon Fiesta Park and paid for parking. Get an early start in order to beat the traffic.
Other fun things to do in Albuquerque:
Soak in the flavor of Albuquerque in Historic Old Town. 10 blocks of historic adobe buildings hold 150 specialty shops, art galleries, museums, and restaurants for you to enjoy. Long porches and hidden patios offer perfect niches to sit, relax, and chat.
A trip on the Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway will transport you above the deep canyons and gorgeous landscape of the Sandia mountains. The Tramway covers 2.7 miles in about 15 minutes.
Atop 10,378 foot Sandia Peak in the Cibola National Forest, you’ll enjoy extraordinary panoramic views, hiking, biking, and snow skiing. If you get hungry, there are two restaurants to choose from. You can find the Tramway on the eastern edge of Albuquerque in the Sandia Foothills at the end of Tramway Road.
Put a smile on your face. Make a trip to Albuquerque’s Balloon Fiesta. It’s definitely a bucket-list item for you and your family!