4 Things to Know Before You Go to the Balloon Fiesta

The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is a hot air balloon festival that takes place in Albuquerque, New Mexico in early October each year. The event lasts for 9 days and this year runs from October 5th to Sunday, October 13th. To see a full schedule of events click here. There is so much to see and do at the festival outside of seeing the hundreds of hot air balloons. With 550 hot air balloons, over 800,000 thousand attendees, and 650 pilots from across the world it is a great event and something you can only experience in Albuquerque, NM.

But how did hot air balloons become a thing and why do so many people make the trek to Albuquerque? It all started in September 1783, when Piliatre De Rozier launched the first hot air balloon. This first flight only lasted 15 minutes and was unmanned, but it was the start of something big. The first manned flight came just two months later.

Albuquerque hosted the first World Hot Air Balloon Championship in February 1974 and the Fiesta became an international event. The event was moved to October as the weather is more favorable for balloon riding in the fall and has been hosted in Albuquerque since it began. The balloon fiesta grew year after year for decades and today is the largest balloon convention in the world.

In 2000, the number of registered balloons reached its peak at 1,019 but has been scaled back due to growth within the city and the lack of landing zones. Today there are 550 balloons registered. On any given day of the festival up to 100,000 spectators may be on the launch field. Countless more are around the city at the various landing sites.

Get your Tickets

One thing that makes your trip easier is you can order your tickets online or by calling directly. Tickets are $10 per person, per session. One session consisted of either all morning or all the evening activities. General tickets are good for any session on any day, but if you want to attend more than one session you will need more than one ticket.

Plan for Parking

Balloon Fiesta public parking sites are available and visitors are encouraged to purchase advance admission tickets. You can find directions on where to park and links to order tickets here.

Another popular option is to use the Park and Ride system that allows you to park off-site, includes round trip transportation to and from the Balloon Fiesta Park, admission to the Balloon Fiesta event, and can save you time with an expedited route that bypasses the heaviest traffic. All park and ride tickets must be purchased online only. There are no Park and Ride Bus services available Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday. So, plan accordingly. There are more ticket options and packages available you can learn about buying tickets online here.

Ride in a Balloon

One of the coolest things ever is to ride in a hot air balloon. And fortunately, you can make this happen at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. Rainbow Ryders is the official balloon ride concession for the festival and the only balloon ride company authorized to take off from Balloon Fiesta Park. Seeing the balloons go from material on the ground to the beautiful balloon rising in the air is a cool experience, but being up in the air is something truly unique. You can call to make reservations today just head over to the Festival’s website right here.

Where to stay?

There are plenty of great places to stay for the festival, but maybe one option you hadn’t thought of was checking into the options available at Military Crashpad in Albuquerque. As this is one of the biggest events of the year all lodging will fill up quickly and some can get expensive. Unlike most big cities there are not a lot of options outside of the city of Albuquerque, but you could always consider staying in Santa Fe which is about an hour away. If you need more travel help you can check out this website to help with car rentals or taxi services.


Have you ever attended the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta? What advice would you give someone planning to attend?

Written by: Amanda Huffman

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