Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta 2021 — Exciting (Family) Fun

Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA. Start Date: 02/10/2021 End Date: 10/10/2021

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Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

Are rainbows the only multi-coloured phenomena in the sky above Albuquerque? No, they’re definitely not.

When this American city in the state of New Mexico hosts the annual Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta, from the 2nd to the 10th of October, 2021, the skies come alive with an incredible kaleidoscope of enormous hot air balloons.

Notice: Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta 2020 has been cancelled. 

Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

If you thought a balloon did nothing more than float, think again. Balloon rodeos, glow flights and mass ascensions are just some of the things which make the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta a spectacular of light and color.

Notice: Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta 2020 has been cancelled. 

Though you might get a crick in your neck from staring upwards for the nine days Albuquerque celebrates the unusual sport of hot air ballooning, it’ll be well worth it.

From dawn to dusk and beyond, the talented balloon pilots put themselves and their equipment through its paces. If you fancy seeing the ground from a different angle too, you can do.

a child on parent shoulder watching the air balloons ascend at the albuquerque balloon fiesta

Image by: Eric Ward


Though you might need to crack open the piggy bank to take a hot air balloon flight at the fiesta itself as they average around three hundred dollars per person.

Don’t worry if you’re not a high flier or the thought of your feet leaving tierra firma makes you dizzy. Down at ground level there’s also plenty of other activities which will keep you busy and entertained.

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You’ll want to check out the amazing 7-Eleven Balloon Discovery Centre where you can find out lots of interesting facts about balloons, how they’re made, how the weather conditions affects flying and if you’re at the Balloon Fiesta with children, they’ll have a chance to light up a balloon burner for real.

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There’s also a fascinating exhibition of NASA aeronautics and scientific ballooning which you won’t want to miss. The great thing is there’s no extra charge for visiting the Discovery Centre. It’s all included in the general session admission charge of $10.

What else happens at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta? Lots!

Special Shape Rodeo

Don’t be mislead into thinking the Special Shape Rodeo at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta has anything to do with riding bucking broncos, it doesn’t.

What it is to do with is any balloon which isn’t exactly balloon shaped. You’ll be completely awe-struck by gigantic bumble bees, seahorses, Cinderella carriages and even Darth Vader-shaped balloons as they float up into the big blue.

You’ll have great fun trying to spot the strangest shape and the most imaginative design. And no, you won’t be hallucinating when you see a balloon that looks like a pair of men’s underwear flying overhead.

darth vaider air balloon at the albuquerque balloon fiesta

Image by: Jeremy


Laser Light Show

Albuquerque doesn’t believe in waiting for dawn to dispel the dark from the night skies. They just get up and do it themselves. Every morning of the Balloon Fiesta, at precisely 05.45am, you’ll be able to watch a fantastic Laser Light Show.

When the exhibition gets under way, piercing beams of light strobe across the heavens in a rhythmic dance set to music. Yes, you’ll need to get up early to see it, but it’s a great way to kick off the day and definitely better than a bowl of cornflakes.

Dawn Patrol

Somebody has to check the weather conditions are right for flying at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta and that job belongs to the Dawn Patrol. It’s an exciting moment when the pilots light up their burners, inflate their balloons and hit the air long before the sun has even come up for the inaugural flight of the day.

lighting up the hot air balloon for ascending at albuqeurque balloon fiesta

Image by: Britt Reints


Chainsaw Challenge

They really do like to do things differently in Albuquerque. Give a man a chainsaw and normally he’d use it for cutting down a tree. Not at the Balloon Fiesta. Give a man a chainsaw and he’ll create a work of art.

Professional chainsaw carvers from all over the States and Canada convene to compete in the major charity event, the Chainsaw Challenge. It might be noisy to watch, but that’s forgivable as all the money raised from the sale of the pieces they produce goes to a good cause.

The skills displayed by the carvers is incredible when you consider the tool they are using. You’ll be truly astounded as a trunk of wood turns into a delicately featured flying eagle, a wild mustang with flowing mane or a life-size Grizzly bear. Unbelievable.

Mass Ascensions

If you were impressed by the flights of the Special Shapes, you’ll be flabbergasted when you watch your first mass ascension. It really is hot air ballooning on a grand scale.

Wave after wave of balloons rise into the sky in simultaneous flight. Numbering in their hundreds, and impossible to keep count of as they go up, it’s an absolutely magnificent display of hot air ballooning that is completely unrivalled anywhere else in the world.

mass ascension of hot air balloons at the albuquerque balloon fiesta

Image by: a4gpa


Balloon Battles

Not to be out done by the Chainsaw Challenge, the ballooners have several competitions in which they pit their aviation skills not only against each other, but against the elements as well.

Can they hit a target set by the Balloon Meister after a one mile flight or even drop two markers close together within a specified boundary? You’ll have to be there to find out.

AfterGlow Fireworks Show

Albuquerque doesn’t believe in being deflated even when the ballooning is over for the day. They finish the day the same way they started it, by illuminating the heavens.

But instead of laser lights, at dusk, the skies are lit by massive fireworks displays. Yes that really happens, every single day of the event. It’s another part of the amazing visual spectacular, which is the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta, you just can’t miss. It’s fantastic.

four air shaped air balloons with fireworks at the firework show in albuquerque balloon fiesta

Image by: John Fowler

5 Practical Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta Tips


#1 Folding Chair and Sun Lounger

The Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta is an outdoor event in an area of open fields known as the Balloon Fiesta Park. To be able to enjoy the displays comfortably. take a folding chair or even a sun lounger. You’ll be able to lay back and watch the balloons go up. It’ll save you a lot of neck strain.

#2 Strictly No Smoking Area

If you’re a smoker, you may want to take some nicotine chewing gum with you. Smoking is strictly prohibited for safety reasons.

#3 Get an Alarm Clock

Many of the events at the Balloon Fiesta are in the early morning. Gates to the events open at around 04.30am so you might want to make sure you set your alarm the night before.

#4 Wear Comfy Shoes

The Balloon Fiesta Park is an enormous 360 acres so forget the high heels and wear comfortable shoes.

#5 Use Ear Plugs

If you’re going to watch the Chainsaw Challenge, take some ear plugs with you.


So Why The Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta?

There’s nothing more graceful or serene than a hot air balloon ascending into the skies. When there’s almost a thousand of them rising together, it turns a simple aerial navigation into an unbelievably colourful spectacular.

There really isn’t any other event quite like this one or one which will float your boat, or balloon gondola, quite like the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta.

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