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Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta: The 10 hottest tips + the most awe-inspiring photos ever!

albuquerque hot air balloon fiesta, couple in a hot air balloon, albuquerque hot air balloon, amazing hot air balloon,Did you know that the first hot air balloon passengers were a sheep, a rooster and a duck?! Back in 1783 they didn’t know if mammals could survive at such high altitudes, and when that first “Montgolfière,” made out of paper (!) and filled with farm animals, ascended from the Palace of Versailles, the world was forever changed.

albuquerque hot air balloon fiesta, couple in a hot air balloon, albuquerque hot air balloon, amazing hot air balloon, special shapes hot air balloon black sheepLucky for us the world of ballooning has developed quite a bit, and lucky for that sheep, he was declared a National Hero and got to live the rest of his days grazing the grounds around Marie Antoinette’s stunning Parisian cottage!

albuquerque hot air balloon fiesta, couple in a hot air balloon, albuquerque hot air balloon, amazing hot air balloon, special shapes hot air balloon black sheepFor those of you who don’t know, the Albuquerque Hot Air Balloon Fiesta is the largest balloon event IN THE WORLD! What started back in 1972 with just 13 balloons, now draws hundreds of thousands of guests who watch the nearly 600 vibrantly-colored balloons take over the sky… and ground below!

albuquerque hot air balloon fiesta, couple in a hot air balloon, albuquerque hot air balloon, amazing hot air balloon,

albuquerque hot air balloon fiesta, couple in a hot air balloon, albuquerque hot air balloon, amazing hot air balloon,We had been dreaming about the day we would finally make it to this magical place and when we arrived, it literally blew us away!

balloons in sky gif, hot air balloon gif, turtle hot air balloon

albuquerque hot air balloon fiesta, couple in a hot air balloon, albuquerque hot air balloon, amazing hot air balloon,, couple in hot air balloonSo, you want the inside scoop on the fiesta so you don’t miss a beat, or balloon? Here are 10 essential tips to ensure your mind is inflated with all the right info when fiesta time comes rolling around each year!

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albuquerque hot air balloon fiesta, couple in a hot air balloon, albuquerque hot air balloon, amazing hot air balloon, speedy hot air balloon#1. Balloonists rise and shine before the sun! We’re talking 4am wake-up call early, and if you want to experience every incredible moment, you best be waking up then too!:albuquerque hot air balloon fiesta, couple in a hot air balloon, albuquerque hot air balloon, amazing hot air balloon, couple in hot air balloon, dawn patrol hot air balloon fiestaIf you want to beat the parking lot traffic and want to see the mesmerizing Dawn Patrol balloons blinking like giant light bulbs in the dark morning sky, plan to arrive to the fiesta by 5:30am.

albuquerque hot air balloon fiesta, couple in a hot air balloon, albuquerque hot air balloon, amazing hot air balloon, couple in hot air balloon, dawn patrol hot air balloon fiestaTrust us, you don’t want to miss it. Dawn Patrol was one of our favorite parts (video here and here):

albuquerque hot air balloon fiesta, couple in a hot air balloon, albuquerque hot air balloon, amazing hot air balloon, couple in hot air balloon, dawn patrol hot air balloon fiesta

albuquerque hot air balloon fiesta, couple in a hot air balloon, albuquerque hot air balloon, amazing hot air balloon, couple in hot air balloon, dawn patrol hot air balloon fiesta#2. Attend Mass Ascension: starting at 7am, this launch of all the participating balloons has been a feature of the Balloon Fiesta since its earliest days and is the most spectacular display of sound and color in all of aviation!! Yes, it really is as amazing as it sounds!:

albuquerque hot air balloon fiesta, couple in a hot air balloon, albuquerque hot air balloon, amazing hot air balloon,

albuquerque hot air balloon fiesta, couple in a hot air balloon, albuquerque hot air balloon, amazing hot air balloon,

albuquerque hot air balloon fiesta, couple in a hot air balloon, albuquerque hot air balloon, amazing hot air balloon,#3. If you’re not up for a breakfast of fried everything and hot dogs, bring snacks and a fun picnic spread to share!

albuquerque hot air balloon fiesta, couple in a hot air balloon, albuquerque hot air balloon, amazing hot air balloon,, couple in hot air balloon, food at hot air balloon fiesta albuquerque

albuquerque hot air balloon fiesta, couple in a hot air balloon, albuquerque hot air balloon, amazing hot air balloon,, couple in hot air balloon, food at hot air balloon fiesta albuquerqueThis “friendly” piranha likes to snack on fingers?!:

albuquerque hot air balloon fiesta, couple in a hot air balloon, albuquerque hot air balloon, amazing hot air balloon,, couple in hot air balloon, food at hot air balloon fiesta albuquerqueWe had an RV roof to chill on, but plan to bring a tarp/picnic blanket or foldable chairs otherwise, there are wooden picnic tables you can chillax at while you watch the carnival in the sky take place!

albuquerque hot air balloon fiesta, couple in a hot air balloon, albuquerque hot air balloon, amazing hot air balloon, couple in hot air balloon

albuquerque hot air balloon fiesta, couple in a hot air balloon, albuquerque hot air balloon, amazing hot air balloon,, couple in hot air balloon, food at hot air balloon fiesta albuquerque#4. It’s cold! In the morning typical temperatures at Balloon Fiesta Park are in the 40’s! Wear layers, a beanie, closed-toe shoes and bring a thermos, otherwise you’ll be trying to take refuge inside someone’s balloon!

albuquerque hot air balloon fiesta, couple in a hot air balloon, albuquerque hot air balloon, amazing hot air balloon,, couple in hot air balloon, darth vader hot air balloon, star wars balloonOr you can always wear a wizard coat and put a cat in your back pocket for added warmth, like this dude below:

albuquerque hot air balloon fiesta, couple in a hot air balloon, albuquerque hot air balloon, amazing hot air balloon, wizard and cat hot air balloon#5. You HAVE TO ride in a balloon. Either become a pilot, volunteer as part of a chase crew, reserve your spot for about $300 per person, or if you’re lucky like us, run into a legendary balloonist, aka. Gary, while hiking in Zion, become great friends and eventually be able to fly in “Gary’s Balloon,” seen below 🙂albuquerque hot air balloon fiesta, couple in a hot air balloon, albuquerque hot air balloon, amazing hot air balloon,, couple in hot air balloon, darth vader hot air balloon, star wars balloonThe moment we stepped into that balloon for the first time, it was like stepping into a dream. We gazed lovingly at the sky we would soon be floating in and as soon as we were buoyant, the ropes released and thousands of spectators below cheered and waved as our ballooning cherries were popped!:

albuquerque hot air balloon fiesta, couple in a hot air balloon, albuquerque hot air balloon, amazing hot air balloon, special shapes hot air balloon black sheep

albuquerque hot air balloon fiesta, couple in a hot air balloon, albuquerque hot air balloon, amazing hot air balloon,, couple in hot air balloon

albuquerque hot air balloon fiesta, couple in a hot air balloon, albuquerque hot air balloon, amazing hot air balloon,The views from the air were unlike anything we could have imagined.

albuquerque hot air balloon fiesta, couple in a hot air balloon, albuquerque hot air balloon, amazing hot air balloon,, couple in hot air balloon, hot air balloon fiesta panoramic, view from hot air balloonWe went from having giant balloons all around us – above, below, beside – to seeing everything shrink away, like tiny toys, getting smaller with every passing breath.

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albuquerque hot air balloon fiesta, couple in a hot air balloon, albuquerque hot air balloon, amazing hot air balloon,#6. Learn from “Lindy” the balloon and bring your sunnies 🙂

20151009-IMG_9891#7. Balloon landings. We had no idea what this entailed, but basically the Balloonist utilizes the wind speed and direction at different altitudes to direct the flight and once he has spotted an ideal landing pad he tries his best to steer clear of winds that will push the ballon into trees, power lines, etc.

albuquerque hot air balloon fiesta, couple in a hot air balloon, albuquerque hot air balloon, amazing hot air balloon,

albuquerque hot air balloon fiesta, couple in a hot air balloon, albuquerque hot air balloon, amazing hot air balloon,They may even brush against tree tops to help slow the balloon down!

albuquerque hot air balloon fiesta, couple in a hot air balloon, albuquerque hot air balloon, amazing hot air balloon silhouette, hot air balloon in the treesOnce the balloon is on the ground the “Chase Crew” arrives in the “Chase Car” to help deflate the ballon, roll it up into its envelope, put the basket up onto its platform and take everyone back to Balloon Fiesta Park to celebrate with Champagne!

albuquerque hot air balloon fiesta, couple in a hot air balloon, albuquerque hot air balloon, amazing hot air balloon, smokey bear hot air balloon chase crew, chase car fire engineView of crews deflating their balloons from above:

albuquerque hot air balloon fiesta, couple in a hot air balloon, albuquerque hot air balloon, amazing hot air balloon, hot air balloon landing

albuquerque hot air balloon fiesta, couple in a hot air balloon, albuquerque hot air balloon, amazing hot air balloon, hot air balloon landingVery fun Fact: Common tradition among balloonists is to have a champagne toast upon landing after every successful flight! Legend has it that early French aeronauts carried champagne to appease angry or frightened spectators at the landing site… luckily we didn’t meet any of those 🙂

albuquerque hot air balloon fiesta, couple in a hot air balloon, albuquerque hot air balloon, amazing hot air balloon,, couple in hot air balloon, champagne at hot air balloon fiesta albuquerque, champagne toast, chase crew hot air balloon fiesta#8. This one is going to seem as obvious as day, but just in case, bring your camera, tripod and every lens you own! We fell in love with ballooning at first sight:

albuquerque hot air balloon fiesta, couple in a hot air balloon, albuquerque hot air balloon, amazing hot air balloon, speedy hot air balloon, hot air balloon photographerNotice the guy and girl balloon behind us, they’re married! They actually had a marriage ceremony for them and everything! Complete with a champagne toast of course 😉

albuquerque hot air balloon fiesta, couple in a hot air balloon, albuquerque hot air balloon, amazing hot air balloon, couple kissing hot air balloon, boy and girl hot air balloonsBut we have to admit, the bees were our absolute favorite:

albuquerque hot air balloon fiesta, couple in a hot air balloon, albuquerque hot air balloon, amazing hot air balloon, couple kissing hot air balloon, boy and girl hot air balloons, bumble bee hot air balloons kissingFun fact: The bees start out with their hands velcroed together and as they ascend, usually kissing with their little baby bee nearby, they eventually go buzzing their own separate ways, making for some of the most adorable moments at the Fiesta!

Bees gif, hot air balloon gif

albuquerque hot air balloon fiesta, couple in a hot air balloon, albuquerque hot air balloon, amazing hot air balloon, couple kissing hot air balloon, boy and girl hot air balloons, bumble bee hot air balloons kissing, hot air balloon bees

albuquerque hot air balloon fiesta, couple in a hot air balloon, albuquerque hot air balloon, amazing hot air balloon, couple kissing hot air balloon, boy and girl hot air balloons, bumble bee hot air balloons kissing, hot air balloon beesEverywhere we looked there was something completely out-of-this-world AMAZING to capture!

albuquerque hot air balloon fiesta, couple in a hot air balloon, albuquerque hot air balloon, amazing hot air balloon, astronaut hot air balloonDarth. Vader. Get this, the entire crew dresses up in Star Wars attire!

albuquerque hot air balloon fiesta, couple in a hot air balloon, albuquerque hot air balloon, amazing hot air balloon,, couple in hot air balloon, darth vader hot air balloon, star wars balloonAnyone ever heard of a Tri-bird? Three birds in one!

20151006-IMG_9739Sushi, the adorable flying gold fish:

albuquerque hot air balloon fiesta, couple in a hot air balloon, albuquerque hot air balloon, amazing hot air balloon, sushi hot air balloonOr how about chicken not-so-little:

albuquerque hot air balloon fiesta, couple in a hot air balloon, albuquerque hot air balloon, amazing hot air balloon, blue chicken hot air balloonThe tortoise and Annie the lady bug anyone?? Looks like a tie to us!

albuquerque hot air balloon fiesta, couple in a hot air balloon, albuquerque hot air balloon, amazing hot air balloon, hot air balloon landing, turtle balloon, lady bug hot air balloonThe photo ops were absolutely endless.

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albuquerque hot air balloon fiesta, couple in a hot air balloon, albuquerque hot air balloon, amazing hot air balloon, speedy hot air balloon#9. One day is NOT enough. We went the first Saturday (all day) for Mass Ascension and Glow aka. Night Magic, Sunday morning for our inaugural First Flight, Monday morning as Chase Crew, Tuesday morning to observe, Thursday night for Glow, Friday morning for our final ascent and we still couldn’t get enough!

albuquerque hot air balloon fiesta, couple in a hot air balloon, albuquerque hot air balloon, night magic, balloon glow albuquerque, balloon fiesta fireworks, couple watching fireworks, romantic couple fireworksThe sky, winds and balloons change every morning, creating a completely unique experience every time you go!
albuquerque hot air balloon fiesta, couple in a hot air balloon, albuquerque hot air balloon, amazing hot air balloon, gary's balloon

albuquerque hot air balloon fiesta, couple in a hot air balloon, albuquerque hot air balloon, amazing hot air balloon, gary's balloonNotice Gary’s perfect little balloon in the bottom right of the frame:

albuquerque hot air balloon fiesta, couple in a hot air balloon, albuquerque hot air balloon, amazing hot air balloon, gary's balloon#10. Last but not least… Explore Albuquerque! Once the clock strikes Noon everything at the festival starts to close up and the pilots and their crew retreat for nap time. This is especially true on nights that don’t have a Glow scheduled, but have no fear, there’s a ton to choose from!

breaking bad house, walter white house, albuquerque breaking bad tour, where was breaking bad filmed, breaking bad filming locations, self guided breaking bad tourAll you Breaking Bad fans may recognize Walter White’s house above! You can opt for a guided BaD Tour, or if your like us, follow Lonely Planet’s DIY Breaking Bad Tour! Check out Walt’s car wash below where you can actually get your car washed!

breaking bad car wash, car wash where walter white worked, albuquerque breaking bad tour, where was breaking bad filmed, breaking bad filming locations, self guided breaking bad tourAnother must-do, located on Balloon Fiesta Park, is the International Balloon Museum! For just $4 you will learn fascinating balloon facts and see some of the most valuable artifacts in ballooning history!

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We also can’t forget to mention historic Old Town, artsy Madrid and the ancient Native American ruins of Bandelier:

bandelier national monument, things to do in albuquerque, girl on ladderOne thing’s for sure, going to the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta made “Balunatics” out of us! It’s an experience we hope to be a part of again, but there’s something about your first time that you never forget.

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13 Comments

  1. Reply

    Sonia

    July 11, 2017

    Looks amazing! we can only go for a short period of time – 2-3days, and probably over the weekend. Would you recommend going at the start or at the end of the week? Thank you!

    • Reply

      Brittany Rouille

      July 12, 2017

      Oh goodness so hard to know! Truly you can’t go wrong with being there at the beginning or the end, but 1 little piece of insight is that it gets more and more crowded as the event goes on so you might enjoy the experience with a bit less chaos if you go earlier, but again it all comes down to what truly works best for you because you will love it either way 🙂 Also, DEFINITELY visit the Hot Air Balloon Museum right next to where the fiesta takes place, we really enjoyed it!! So glad you found our blog 🙂 Stay in touch via Insta if you’re on there: Instagram.com/MrandMrsAdventure

  2. Reply

    Ashley J

    September 6, 2016

    I’m an ABQ resident and I’m so glad you had a great time in our humble city. We’re very proud of Balloon Fiesta and look forward to sharing our beautiful place with visitors every year. Thanks for making it look as wonderful as it is!

    • Reply

      mrandmrsadventure

      September 6, 2016

      Aww, we are so glad you enjoyed our post! It was truly even more magical in person, we so look forward to returning to your beautiful home state one day 🙂

  3. Reply

    Michelle

    October 16, 2015

    I almost went to this but time flew by and other plans got in the way. I wish I would have went!

    • Reply

      mrandmrsadventure

      October 16, 2015

      It’s an incredible thing to see so many balloons in the sky at once and to experience all the crews setting up. Thanks for the comment and hope you can make it next year! It’s 1000% worth it and has been a one of the top highlights of our year.

  4. Reply

    Simply Save

    October 13, 2015

    This looks so amazing! I love the bees and the astronaut!

    • Reply

      mrandmrsadventure

      October 14, 2015

      Those were our favorites:)

  5. Reply

    Lindsay

    October 13, 2015

    This is one of your best blogs yet! I’ve got serious experience envy. Very cool.

    • Reply

      mrandmrsadventure

      October 13, 2015

      We are so glad you love!! We know that experience envy will turn into your own personal supply of adventure fuel 😉

  6. Reply

    The Road We've Traveled

    October 13, 2015

    Balloon Fiesta is incredible. We visited a couple years ago and had a blast. I love your pictures from the air! What a cool view.

    • Reply

      mrandmrsadventure

      October 13, 2015

      What an experience right?! Glad you got to enjoy it as well 🙂 Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts!

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