Albuquerque International Ballon Fiesta – bucket list !

For as long as I can remember I have wanted to attend this magical Fiesta of ballooning! Rick and I made this dream come true in October 2017 along with Lenny & Lola.

We arrived early to get the lay of the land and joined up with the Fantasy RV Rally group a few days before the Fiesta kicked off. The Fantasy RV Rally had over 250 participants and we met a lot of fun folks. Ten coaches from the Grand Canyon tour also joined us so we had a good group to hangout with at meals. More than 2500 coaches, campers and 5th wheels were parked at the festival – some 40,000 attended the opening ascension. There were night glow events too – after dark balloon crews light their propane to illuminate the balloons while tethered to the ground. It’s so cool – only photos can share the experience.

Over 600 balloons take off almost every day for ten days in a show of skill and balloon jubilation. It is a sight to behold and you should not miss it.

Mass ascension has nothing to do with a religion at this event – it is a magical experience meant to be shared.

Balloons if all sizes and shapes with gondolas (baskets) big and small – one fellow had just a chair attached to his balloon. Large commercial balloons mixed with balloon ride companies and individual balloon enthusiasts – it’s a party of color, sound and wind.

The “Albuquerque Box” is why this festival is here – it’s a series of wind patterns that is beneficial to ballooning and floating through the air without a care……

We had sunny but cool weather – especially at 400 am when ballooning begins for most. Winds were cooperative most days – on only one day were the balloons kept on the ground.

There were night events called evening glow – after dark balloon crews light their propane to illuminate the balloons while tethered to the ground. It’s so cool – only photos can share the experience.

We arranged our ride the day before festivities began and it was nothing short of magnificent. Unlike the helicopter ride – it was quiet, gentle and less area was covered but it was beautiful.

We would do it again anytime. It’s a wonderful way to see the planet. It’s fun to join folks for the first ride and share the experience. And even if you are afraid of flying you could do this – very calm and easy going adventure

We visited a Pueblo Indian village called Sky City – as well as a Pueblo museum in Albuquerque.

The village was high on a Mesa and has been continually occupied for hundreds of years. Our tour guide was a resident and offered interesting insights into his peoples history. The residents make pottery and other artwork that can be purchased to support the tribe. Women hold the land rights in this tribe which still observes many traditional rules such as marriage rites, housing styles and a private religion not shared with outsiders. They have an oral history that passed down stories of terrible persecution by the Spanish as well as other tribes.

Old Town is a charming town with a lot of remaining Spanish and Mexican influence – great restaurants and sandwich shopped with plenty of shopping. It would be great to return and explore this area and Santa Fe – perhaps next year.

We met with a balloon pilot who explained all the aspects such as what material balloons are made of and how the propane heaters and ropes work. We recommend visiting the Balloon Museum to get a background on the history and mechanics of ballooning. It seems the French tradition of ending each ride with a bottle of champagne has a cute origin ( it’s in case you land on a stranger’s land without permission – a little bubbly smooths over anything) and even our ride had a similar wrap up – so genteel.

Happy Ballooning!

Author: kateamirault

Retired well traveled and Experienced woman

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