Envision hundreds of colorful balloons soaring at once, floating over the picturesque Sandia Mountains in the quiet morning. The colors are luminous and rich while the technique, skill, and timing is precise. In the evening, you walk among the balloons as the propane burners twinkle and illuminate the aircrafts against the black sky backdrop. It happens every autumn in gorgeous New Mexico at the world’s biggest Balloon Festival, The International Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta.
With such striking scenery as a backdrop to the largest mass ascension, it’s no wonder the event is said to be the world’s most photographed.
Each year, nearly 750,000 visitors travel to Albuquerque to see the fiesta for themselves. Described as the ultimate bucket list experience, the international gathering is exciting for both first-timers and festival veterans. Although the ascension is a sight to behold, there are multiple events throughout this two-week international festival to keep you engaged and mesmerized.
Every morning, as the balloons prepare for flight, you have the opportunity to walk onto the launch field as the balloons inflate. Visitors are encouraged to ask questions and speak with pilots and crewmembers. Rumor is, the crew will occasionally ask for your assistance as they prepare for liftoff.
In the evening, attend the “Glowdeo,” which features artistically designed balloons shaped like bumblebees, flowers, and even dinosaurs almost three-stories high as they are inflated and glow in the desert night. You are even able to walk among the tethered balloons to see the unique designs up close before they participate in their own mass ascension known as a “Special Shape Rodeo.”
One of the highlights that we recommend is the “America’s Challenge Gas Balloon Race” where balloon pilots brave treacherous conditions as they fly higher, reaching perilous altitudes. At these dizzying heights, pilots experience turbulent weather and harsher conditions and must utilize their skills and talent while racing to cover the greatest distance.
Of course, for the definitive balloon experience, you will need to take a ride for yourself. Glide into the air high above the Sonoran Desert and enjoy the quiet and serene landscape as the sun rises. Tours are available throughout the festival so you will have ample opportunity to fly above the beautiful Southwest.
Before or after the festival, make sure to take time to also visit the diverse and vibrant city of Albuquerque and the magical Southwest United States. See historic Route 66, enjoy the great food, and experience the rich and complex history of this hidden corner of America. From the expansive sparkling desert of the White Sands National Monument to the quirky attractions of Roswell and Tombstone, New Mexico and Arizona are waiting to be explored!
You can explore the Southwest and the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta on YMT Vacations’ Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta and Southwestern Tour from just $999 per person. The 10-day journey features stays in Albuquerque, Santé Fe, Roswell, Las Cruces, Tucson and Phoenix. For information and reservations, call your Travel Consultant or YMT Vacations at 1-888-756-9072.