I was provided with admission to the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta in exchange for media coverage. All opinions are my own.
While watching 500+ balloons ascend into the air at the break of day is an amazing sight and Our Balloon Ride was an unforgettable experience, that’s not all there is to see at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta! Once the Mass Ascension was over we decided to stick around and enjoy….
This was SUPER cool! Five artists were invited to this year’s Fiesta. Each morning they participated in a 90 minute challenge where hey were given just 90 minutes to carve. The finished products were judged and auctioned off in the evening. After taking a little break the carvers then started with a much bigger log and began a 4-5 hour challenge.
These photos were all from the 90 minute challenge!
Can you imagine?
The end results were very elaborate and beautiful masterpieces.
They were all terrific, but my favorite was this little lady! She won the first 90 minute challenge. We spent lots of time watching these folks.
I just had to get this one of my son who loves the idea of “Big Foot”. We just wanted to show the world, you can get a clear picture of Big Foot! Does this prove he is real?
Sunday morning, once the balloon field was cleared the cars started to roll in.
We saw current custom cars
And everything in between.
Of course, the food was a HUGE draw. See that row of white tents? ALL food vendors. Think state fair meets Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. New Mexico is famous for their breakfast burritos, fried food and my personal favorite….Indian Tacos. If you plan to attend, eat early because many places close up shop in the middle of the day when there are fewer people and less activities.
I have a great story about my food experience, but that will have to wait for another day.
The Gas Balloon Race aka America’s Race
On the first evening, just before the Balloon Glow, the America’s Race begins. Gas balloons (8 this year) take off on a distance race. The race is won by the team that travels the farthest. Each day the spectators receive updates on their progress. This year the time and distance records were broken.
The balloon breaking the time record stayed up for over 60 hours. The Swedish team won the race, breaking the distance record as they traveled all the way to Quebec, Canada…some 2,200+ miles! All the balloons landed by Wednesday morning then hurried to get back to Albuquerque for the balloonist banquet on Saturday night.
Evening Twinkle Balloon Glow
When the sun goes down and it gets dark the crowd gathers to watch the Balloon Glow, which is quite a sight. The Glow is only held on the evenings of opening and closing weekends. Again, inflated balloons fill the field but instead of taking off an announcer will call for an “all burn”. The balloonist pull and hold the rope to ignite the propane burner, illuminating their balloon. Five hundred illuminated balloons against the night sky is a wonderful display of color and brilliance!
Again, spectators are encouraged to walk around on the field, right among the balloons and get an “up close and personal” experience.
Many of the balloonist (like this one) even allow folks to hop up on the side of the basket and take pictures. They really did seem to be a friendly bunch.
If the announcer calls for a “flicker burn” the balloonist pull and release the ignition rope randomly causing the illuminated balloons to “twinkle”. Imagine a field about half mile long filled with giant beautifully decorated Christmas bulbs twinkling in the night. Now you have an inkling of this amazing sight. The video below will give you just a glimpse of how awesome it is to see!
Then they end the evening with a laser light show and fireworks!
Canon does a GREAT job as the official sponsor of the Balloon Fiesta! It really is a top-notch event!
Last, but certainly not least…
Sunrise and Sunset Over the Sandia Mountains
The Sandia Mountains are directly east of Balloon Fiesta Park so the field is a perfect location to watch the sun come up right over the mountains.
The sun sets directly across from the mountains and if you watch as the last rays of the sun go down over the horizon, the mountains turn a beautiful shade of pink. A local family told us that’s actually how the mountains got their name. Sandia is Spanish for watermelon. The pink hue on the semicircular mountains does resemble a giant slice of watermelon.
I feel like I just can’t say enough about how wonderful the Balloon Fiesta is. It’s the perfect trip for anyone…families, couples, friends…we even met a man who comes alone every year to volunteer. It’s just that great!