Balloon Fiesta Park (map), from which the balloons are launched, is located on the northern edge of the city. In 2005, the Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum (map) was opened on the grounds. The museum is dedicated to the history, science, sport, and art of ballooning and other innovative forms of flight.
Dawn Patrol. Every day there’s a Dawn Patrol at around 6AM, where a few balloons take off before the sun rises. These balloons test the conditions before other balloons take off.
Mass Ascensions. One of the biggest events of the fiesta (about 7AM), where all participating balloons launch in two waves, filling the sky with hundreds of balloons at once. The first wave of the mass ascension typically begins at around 7am, around the time of Albuquerque’s sunrise in early October.
Artistic Vision. Many local artists take advantage of the balloons as favorite subject matter for their paintings.
Special Shape Rodeo. Many non-traditional, uniquely shaped balloons are launched at the same time. Some of the most famous shapes include a milk cow, a wagon coach, twin bees, and many others like soda pop cans and animals. This is the most popular part of the event.
Balloon Glows. Large numbers of balloons are illuminated at night by their propane burners. They stand static and do not take off during these events. The “Glowdeo” is a night glow for the special shapes balloons. Evening Balloon glows are often followed by fireworks displays.
And if you want to do more than watch the balloons, there are several local companies which provide balloon rides year-round:
- Rainbow Ryders. The only one which operates directly from Balloon Fiesta Park during the Balloon Fiesta edit.
Albuquerque is often overshadowed as a tourist destination by Santa Fe, 60 mi (97 km) to the north. But any visit to New Mexico would be incomplete without taking in what Albuquerque has to offer. The city has pleasant scenery, colorful history, and a wealth of great attractions in its own right.
Here, in a setting that has been made familiar to many by the television series *Breaking Bad, you’ll find many excellent museums, colorful neon signs along old Route 66, the naturalistic beauty of the Rio Grande (map) and the Sandia Mountains (map), and a spectacular hot-air balloon festival in the fall.
The Old Town (map) is east of Rio Grande Boulevard in between Central Ave. and Mountain Rd. (west of downtown). A nice sightseeing area, Old Town is where the city was founded in 1706 and is a place where centuries of history and modern life merge.
Albuquerque Museum of Art and History (map). Guided walking tours of Old Town start here.
The Sandia Mountains offer outdoors opportunities ranging from straight hiking (the La Luz trail is popular) on to serious, multi-day rock climbing. For a map of Sandia Mountain trails, see the Cibola National Forest website.