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The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta - 2016

1st to 9th Oct-2016

The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is one of the most charming festivals in the world. It was first held in 1972, and has since grown to be the largest hot-air balloon festival in the world. This year, it’s scheduled for the 1st to the 9th of October.

Each year, around five hundred hot-air balloons can be seen gliding across the Albuquerque sky, which is located in New Mexico. The fiesta draws a massive crowd of international visitors consisting of both - spectators and hot-air balloonists. This brightly colored festival is considered to be the most photographed event in the world. The event also attracts several marriage proposals due to the unmatched setting it provides.

Due to limited availability of seats in the hot-air balloons, you’ll need to book well-in-advance with Rainbow Riders Inc., as they are the only company authorized to take off from the Balloon Fiesta Park during the festival. You can reserve your seats online through

The Fiesta Park is equipped with proper parking facilities. Visitors will be charged $15 per vehicle, per session. You also have the option of buying the parking passes in-advance at the Balloon Fiesta office. People who want to attend the festival can check out to book their accommodations. A few hotels located near the Balloon Fiesta Park are Staybridge Suites Albuquerque North, Comfort Inn and Suites, which are situated at Signal Ave.; Holiday Inn Express Balloon Fiesta Park and Americas Best Value Inn & Suites Albuquerque, located at Alameda Blvd.

Last year during the ‘Special Shape Rodeo’ segment of the festival, many pop-culture icons were seen sailing across the sky, such as Uncle Sam, Sonic the Hedgehog, the Boot House, Toy Story’s Hamm (the pig); and other characters from films such as Madagascar and The Angry Birds. Other balloons were shaped like a footfall, an astronaut, a car, bees and planet Earth.

This year, the ‘Special Shape Rodeo’ section of the festival is to be held on October 6th and 7th, at 7A.M. The ‘Special Shape Glowdeo’ is scheduled to take place at 6 P.M. during those same days. Watching the fun-shaped hot-air balloons come to life as it floats around in the dark sky, with a fiery glow is nothing less than magical. The fire burning inside, brings the balloons to life.

The ‘Dawn Patrol Show’, which is an official kick-off to the festival, is scheduled to be started at 6 A.M. of 1st October. Members of the Dawn Patrol use custom-made night flight lights which enables them to fly their balloons in the dark. After receiving certification from the FAA, they take to the skies before sunrise. This is an important part of the festival as it indicates to other flyers whether the conditions are suitable for flying or not. It also assists in finding out and relaying important information about wind speeds and other necessary factors of flying. After all of the balloons are in the air, the Dawn Patrol puts on a magnificent show with features like ‘all burn’ and ‘flicker burn.’ Performances by the Dawn Patrol also includes a Laser Light Show.

This year, the Music Fiesta will be held on October 8th, from 1 to 5:30 P.M. The lead performer of the concert will be Chris Young, winner of the USA Network’s program Nashville Star. Other talented artists like Parmalee and Sim Balkey will join him on-stage. The Night Magic Glow, presented by Canon, is scheduled to take place at 6 P.M.


One of the most entertaining parts of the festival is the AfterGlow Fireworks Show, which is presented in part by Albuquerque Journal. Enjoy a beautiful evening while you watch the night sky come to life with tiny specks of blue, red, green and pink. It’s scheduled to take place at 8 P.M. on October 1st, 2nd, 6th, 7th and 8th. Another can’t miss show of the festival is the Laser Light Show, which is scheduled to take place at 7:45 P.M. on the previously mentioned dates.


There are also daily events and competitions to enjoy, such as a photo contests including Dawn Patrol Photo Entry, Mass Ascension Photo Entry, Balloon Glow Photo Entry, Special Shape Rodeo Photo Entry and AfterGlow Fireworks Photo Entry. The Grand Prize Winner will receive a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV and the First Place Winners from each category will receive a Canon EOS M3. Second and Third Place Winners from each category will receive Balloon Fiesta jackets and posters.


Visitors of this festival can enjoy the AIBF Chainsaw Carving Invitational, which features professional chainsaw carvers from all over North America. These carvers are renowned for the exquisite, detailed wooden sculptures they create. The Fiesta consists of many other segments including the Krispy Kreme Morning Glow, Mass Ascension, Twilight Twinkle Glow, Balloon Fiesta Pin Trading, Fiesta of Wheels Car Show, Balloons Launch, Competition Flying Begins, Farewell Mass Ascension, AIBF Chainsaw Carving Q&A, America’s Challenge Gas Balloon Race Inflation and America’s Challenge Gas Balloon Race Launch. The photographs taken during Krispy Kreme Morning Glow are turned into prints, which have become fan favorites over the years. You can find these photos in the form of t-shirts and framed posters at the Fiesta Park shops or online.

The Fiesta is Albuquerque’s biggest tourist attraction and a great platform to showcase the history and culture of New Mexico. Have an enchanting experience at The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta and make memories to last a lifetime.