A few weeks ago my roommate Tim and I decided to take a road trip from Northern Colorado down to New Mexico. Why New Mexico you ask? It just so happens that every year during the first couple of weeks of October, Albuquerque plays host to the largest hot air balloon festival in the world!
This balloon festival or Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta goes for about 9 days strong filled with carnival games, vendors and other various entertainment. It started back in 1972 with 13 balloons going up near a shopping mall in Albuquerque. Year after year it has increased and now, going on four decades later, there is an official 365 acre Balloon Fiesta Park with a 78 acre launching field where over 600 hot air balloons go drifting away into the skies.
During the fiesta, the park opens its gates at 4:30AM for the morning mass ascension and then again at 3:00pm for the evening activities. Most of the vendors are up and running at the start offering breakfast foods, coffee and hot chocolate for those early freezing mornings. With music in the background and the buzz of people steadily growing louder, a few balloons take off into the darkness appearing as fireflies the higher they go. These balloons go up early to check what the weather is like and if it will be safe for all the balloons later. Then, weather permitting, the mass ascension begins with the sunrise where hundreds of balloons take to the skies in a kaleidoscope of colors.
I would highly recommend for anybody near Albuquerque in early October to stop by for a day and check out the festival. Before you go, check each day’s line up of events. Everyday has different performing artists and festivities planned.