All I can say about Albuquerque is if you ever get the chance to go there and experience the Balloon Fiesta, GO! It is an experience that you will never forget and you will not regret it! In 2011 I witnessed a world record being broken as they launched more balloons in an hour then had ever been launched before the first weekend we were there. It was beautiful to behold and the sky was just filled with balloons! There are many different events to behold, some very early, and some late. The day starts with the Dawn Patrol. And it is just what it sounds, balloons taking off in the pre-dawn light and it’s a site to behold as you can see the balloons gradually inflate and glow as their fires are lit and fill them with hot air…and then they sail up into the dark sky just before dawn, then as the sunrises, they can be seen floating around as the rest of the balloons fill and take off. One of the great parts of the Fiesta is that you can walk around the field as the balloons are laid out for their flights, and then watch as they are filled and then take off. Their are officials who monitor the take offs called zebras and I have to say that the zebras keep everything orderly and clear the area as the balloons take off.
There is little going on during the day after the morning balloons take off, so the park clears around 10-11, as the food and gift vendors close until the evening when the Evening Glow takes place. In the evening no one takes off, but the balloons are laid out and inflated as everyone walks around and beholds all the unique balloons. There is everything from standard balloons to special shapes that come in all shapes and sizes!
I’ve been to the Balloon Fiesta twice now and this past year I even got to go up in a balloon. I was honored to represent the media at the event and will never forget my first balloon ride. I hope to be able to up again in the future, too. My flight almost didn’t happen because it was a windy day, and the pilot almost chose not to go, but the winds improved and we went. It was not as long as many other people got to have, but it was long enough to make me want to have the experience again. I’ve been in a chase crew twice now and that is almost more fun then going up…but as I said, ALMOST! Sailing up and away from the field and then floating in the air with a balloon keeping you up is not something everyone would want to do, but most the pilots are very experienced and they know what they are doing.
don’t know for sure when I’ll make it back to another Balloon Fiesta. I wish I could go every year, but that just isn’t in the cards. But I know I’ll go back almost every chance I’m given!