We went to the 2018 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta and yes, it was as good as I expected!!
The opening day of the fiesta (we didn’t have tickets), we got up early and were watching out of our hotel window to see the outlines of the balloons taking off . . . . far off in the distance. We also had the TV on with live coverage from the field of the festival. Even watching the mass ascension on TV was pretty exciting.
I had tickets for the second morning. Events kick off at 6:00am, so it was a really early start to the day. The morning was chilly so we bundled up, worked our way through the traffic and was sipping hot coffee in the dark by 5:30am.
The first thing that struck me was the huge team of people working the event. Directing traffic, organizing parking, giving directions, checking tickets, keeping tables clean and food warm. The organization of the event was pretty impressive.
As the morning was beginning to get light, we kept our eyes on the various flags around the field. Was it calm enough for the balloons to inflate? Was it calm enough for the balloons to launch? We quickly found out that it was calm enough for the balloons to inflate, but not to launch. It was either too much wind higher up, or in the wrong direction. So we listen to the Star Spangled Banner with everyone on the field flaring their burners! It was great!!
So as the sun came up we walked among the balloons as they inflated. It was like a forest of balloons of different colors and shapes!
If you ever get a chance to attend the Balloon Fiesta, I highly recommend it. The hot air balloon folks seem to be a very enthusiastic and friendly group. My tips for attending include:
- This is a weather dependent event, at least for the balloons being inflated and taking off. So keep an open mind, enjoy all the other things going on if things are kept on the ground!
- The traffic to the event is impressive. There are a number of places you can park (off of the event site) and ride in on shuttle buses.
- While I splurged for the Gondola Pass, it was overkill. Nice, but totally unnecessary.
- And yes, it is worth getting up for the morning session!!