Up, up, and away: Experience the 2023 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

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Every October, the sky over Albuquerque, New Mexico, comes alive with a spectacle that has earned its place as the world's largest hot air ballooning event — the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. The 2023 edition, which is scheduled to run from October 7th to October 15th, explores the key events and attractions that make this festival an unforgettable experience for visitors from around the globe.

Main events at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

Oktoberfest  Waiter with traditional costume holding beers
Oktoberfest rides
Friends enjoying Oktoberfest drinking beer

Dawn patrol show: A select group of balloons takes off before sunrise to check weather conditions, often launching to music. It's a mesmerizing blend of tradition and practicality.
Time: Around 6:00 am

Morning glow: Tethered balloons light up the morning sky with synchronized burns from their propane burners, creating a captivating spectacle before they take flight.
Time: Pre-sunrise

Mass ascension: Hundreds of balloons take off in waves, filling the morning sky with vibrant colors and shapes. It's the Fiesta's signature event and a must-see for all attendees.
Time: Generally starting after 7:00 am

Balloon launch: A smaller-scale version of the Mass Ascension, offering visitors a chance to witness balloon launches up close and personal.
Time: Around 7:00 am (on days without Mass Ascension)

Evening balloon glows:Balloons inflate and remain tethered to the ground, lighting up the evening with synchronized burns. The glows are followed by mesmerizing fireworks and laser light shows.
Time: Just before dusk

America's challenge gas balloon race: Pilots compete in specially designed gas balloons, attempting to cover the longest distance without landing. It's an exciting race that can span several days and take participants across states or even countries.

Special shape balloon events: Unique balloons in various shapes, from cartoon characters to iconic figures, take to the sky. Special events dedicated to these creative balloons provide an opportunity to see them up close.

2023 Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta - Know before you go:

  • Morning sessions typically run from 5:30 am to 10:00 am, while evening sessions are from 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm.
  • Here’s a guide on all the events taking place and how you can navigate when there.
  • Getting to the Balloon Fiesta: You have several transportation options, including the Park and Ride Shuttle Bus, taxi and Uber rides, and cycling to the event.
  • Food and drink at the Balloon Fiesta:
  • A variety of vendors offer delicious options such as breakfast burritos, chili cheeseburgers, hot dogs, pizza, nachos, donuts, and hot beverages. Don't miss the chance to savor the local flavors while here.
  • PS: The balloons only take off if weather conditions are just right for everyone’s safety. There are no refunds for your tickets on bad weather days.

Places to visit around Albuquerque

While attending the 2023 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, make the most of your visit by exploring the diverse cultural and natural attractions that the area has to offer. Here are some must-visit places to enhance your experience:

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta 2023