Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

Each year in early October, nearly 600 hot air balloons fill the Albuquerque sky for a 9 day festival that is now the largest hot air balloon festival in the world. The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta brings balloons, pilots, and spectators from all over the world to participate in and view the event. Many people travel from far and wide to come to this event, with some organizations even setting up special tours just for the festival. For example, America by Rail offers a train tour created specifically with this fiesta in mind. Different events take place over the course of the 9 days with the most popular being Dawn Patrol, Mass Ascensions, Special Shape Rodeo and Balloon Glows.

Dawn Patrol

In 1978, lighting systems were developed that allowed balloonists to fly at night. This remarkable sight is filled with glowing balloons taking off before sunrise and flying until it is light enough to see their landing sites. Other balloonists look for these dawn patrol pilots to get an idea of the wind speeds and directions at different altitudes to prepare for their own flights. Spectators look for these dawn patrol pilots for the breathtaking views of glowing balloons in the early night sky.

Mass Ascensions

During the mass ascensions, all balloonists launch in two waves, covering the sky in beautiful, colorful balloons. Launch directors are stationed around the launch site to ensure safety among the participants. The mass ascension is one of the biggest and most popular events of the fiesta and always a spectator favorite.

Special Shape Rodeo

Alongside the traditionally shaped balloons are unique and individual balloons. Some of the most famous of these special shapes have been milk cows, wagon coaches, twin bees, soda pop cans, animals and many others. Watch these balloons take off next to their traditional counterparts and watch them fill the sky with unique and exciting shapes.

Balloon Glows

A static portion of the fiesta is the balloon glow. During this event, many balloons are illuminated at night by their propane burners. The glowing balloons is a magical sight for all visitors and gives the illusion of giant candles. Spectators can walk among the balloons during this time as both the traditional and non-traditional balloons are illuminated.

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