Frequently Asked Questions
Commonly asked questions in planning your trip to the Balloon Fiesta.
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What is the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta?
The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is a world-renowned attraction and destination for kids of all ages. For more than four decades, the first week in October brings the smell of roasting chiles and the beautiful, magical moving picture show of hot air balloons sailing silently through the crisp fall air.
Guests from all over the world come to Albuquerque to celebrate ballooning. Literally hundreds of balloons will be taking flight from the Balloon Fiesta Park this year October 5 through 13, 2013.
From its modest beginnings in 1972 with 13 balloons launching from a shopping mall parking lot, the Balloon Fiesta has grown to multiple events launching year-round at the custom-designed, 365-acre Balloon Fiesta Park. Our signature event remains Balloon Fiesta—which, with over 600 balloons, is the largest ballooning event on earth, the most photographed event on earth, and the largest annual international event held in the United States.
Imagine 54 football fields, all put together. That's the size of Balloon Fiesta Park's 78-acre launch field! And at this Park's "playing field," there are no losing teams and no viewing stands. Guests walk the field and are part of the action.
Hundreds of thousands of smiling, upturned faces, awestruck by the spectacular beauty of hot air balloons filling the big blue New Mexico sky. What you can't hear until you walk our field at nightfall is the thrilling roar of hundreds of burners simultaneously igniting, turning the Park into a huge lighted Christmas tree of colorful balloons. What you can't feel until you join us is the massive joy everywhere around you.
Balloon Fiesta Park is located north of Alameda Boulevard, one mile west of I-25.
When should I arrive at Balloon Fiesta Park?
Since crowds for some of our events are in excess of 100,000 people, arriving sooner is better. For weekend events, plan to arrive at the park by 4:30-5:00am. During evening events, try to be at the park by 4pm. Gates open at 4:30am and 3:00pm.
Where do we watch the balloons?
Because of our 42-year safety record, we are one of the only balloon (aviation) events where you are actually able to walk among the balloons and talk to the pilots. We are a hands-on event, but please be courteous to hot air balloons and do not step on or over any.
What is a session?
A session is all the activities that go on during a certain time frame. Balloon Fiesta has morning sessions and evening sessions. An example would be when you visit the park to see the Dawn Patrol and Mass Ascension, you would be coming to a morning session.
Are pets allowed at Balloon Fiesta Park?
No, except handicap assisting pets wearing their vests.
Is smoking allowed at Balloon Fiesta Park?
There is no smoking allowed on the Launch Field while balloons are present. Smoking is permitted in designated locations on Main Street. Please be considerate of our other guests.
Where do we park?
We have general parking lots on the north and south ends of the park for $10 every time you park. Each parking lot is color-coded and the gates are numbered, so please remember the color and number of the gate through which you entered the field.
Is there an alternative to driving to Balloon Fiesta Park yourself?
Do you offer shuttles from hotels within Albuquerque?
No. You will need to contact your individual hotel to see if they are offering a shuttle to Balloon Fiesta Park.
Are large packages and backpacks allowed at the park?
Yes, but they are subject to inspection upon entering the Park.
Can we bring food and drinks into the park?
Yes, but you cannot bring glass or alcohol and your bags or coolers are subject to search.
What types of entertainment happen at the park?
Besides the balloons, there is a stage located in the center of Main Street that schedules various bands and children's acts. We also have roving entertainment and interactive education at the Balloon Discovery Center.
Who organizes the Balloon Fiesta?
Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, Inc., organizes the Balloon Fiesta each year. It is non-profit organization with 13 full-time staff members.
Is the Park handicap accessible?
Yes. We have handicap parking on a hard surface close to entrance gates available for the regular parking fee every time you park as well as scooters and wheelchairs available to rent. There are also shuttles that run the length of the Park.
Who are the Zebras at Balloon Fiesta Park?
Zebras are Balloon Fiesta's launch directors. They help launch the balloons every morning. The reason they are called Zebras is that they wear black and white striped shirts. Zebras make up half of all of the officials on the field. We have about 120 officials that run the events during the week of Balloon Fiesta.
What do Chase Crews do?
Chase crews help the pilot inflate and deflate his/her balloon for each flight. If you are interested in being on a chase crew, you can register online at www.balloonfiesta.com, call to have an application sent to you, or visit the Chase Crew tower in the southeast corner of the launch field to sign up.
What is the Balloon Discovery Center?
The Balloon Discovery Center is the educational center located at the north end of Main Street. It offers guests a chance to learn about the sport of ballooning.
What is Dawn Patrol?
Dawn Patrol is a group of selected balloons that launch prior to sunrise on the days of Mass Ascensions.
What is a Mass Ascension?
A mass ascension is when all 500+ balloons launch from Balloon Fiesta Park.
What is Albuquerque Aloft™?
Albuquerque Aloft is a community flight the Friday before Balloon Fiesta starts. Registered pilots of Balloon Fiesta launch from designated elementary schools throughout Albuquerque and Rio Rancho.
What is Flight of the Nations?
Flight of the Nations is an event held during the Wednesday Mass Ascension. It honors all of the countries that are represented in Balloon Fiesta. Up to two balloons from each country launch after the "Sponsor of the day" balloon launches. Each balloon will carry its country's flag.
What is the difference between the Balloon Glow and the Night Magic Glow™?
They are both static displays of the balloons after sunset. The Balloon Glow is the original, occurs on the first Sunday night, and usually has a few more balloons. The Night Magic Glow occurs on the second Saturday night. For evening events, bring a flashlight. Also, take note of where you have parked your car. It may be more difficult to find it in the dark.
What is the America's Challenge™?
It is a long distance gas balloon race. The balloons lift off from Balloon Fiesta Park. The winning balloons will usually fly about three days, landing somewhere on the east coast of the United States.
What is the best way to take a picture?
Create simpler, bolder pictures that are not cluttered with unwanted detail by moving in closer. Close-ups provide variety and add interest to pictures. Take the overall view, then a tight view, then some close-ups of the details.
When is the best time to take a picture?
The magic hour of twilight, dawn or dusk, create beautiful lighting opportunities where the warmth of "Balloon Glow" blends with the velvet blue of muted skylight. Photographers call this "the jewel box effect". Twilight and night are low levels of light which require high speed film.
What is the Special Shape Rodeo™?
The Special Shape Rodeo is two days where special shape balloons are showcased at Balloon Fiesta. Special Shape balloons are the only ones that will launch from Balloon Fiesta Park on those mornings (the standard shape balloons will fly into the park) and will also have a "Glowdeo" in the evening. A "Glowdeo" is a static display of the Special Shape balloons. Special Shape balloons can be shaped into almost anything you can imagine. Some examples include a stagecoach, piggy bank or a cow.
How can I purchase tickets for Balloon Fiesta?
Advance tickets are available by calling 1-888-422-7277, at Balloon Fiesta's Gift Shop at 4401 Alameda Blvd. NE or online at www.balloonfiesta.com/guest-guide/ticketing-information. Please contact Balloon Fiesta's corporate office to find out where other selling locations may be. Tickets may also be purchased at the gate on the days of the event.
What is the Gondola Club?
The Gondola Club is offered to Balloon Fiesta guests that would like to receive some extra special treatment while they are visiting the Balloon Fiesta. Members will receive entrance tickets, special parking tickets, a Gondola Club souvenir, a collectible pin, and hospitality tent privileges Balloon Fiesta Park.
To join the Gondola club visit the Gondola Club page on our website, www.balloonfiesta.com, or call the Balloon Fiesta office.
How long does it take for the balloons to launch?
All 500+ balloons should be launched in less than two hours.
In what type of competitions do the pilots compete at Balloon Fiesta?
Pilots compete in Balloon Fiesta Hold 'em, Key Grab, Balloon Fiesta Golf, Multiple
Judge-Declared Goal, Fly-in Task, Minimum Double Drop and a Prize Grab.
All competitions are based on flying accuracy rather than speed.
How many acres is Balloon Fiesta Park?
Balloon Fiesta Park is over 360 acres. The launch field is over 80 acres itself.
Are Lawn Chairs allowed at Balloon Fiesta Park?
Is there seating available at Balloon Fiesta Park?
Yes, a limited number of benches, bleachers and picnic tables are available.
Where are the ATMs located at Balloon Fiesta Park?
There are ATMs at both the north and south ends of Main Street and near the Stage in the middle of Main Street.
What car rental companies are in Albuquerque?
Most major car rental companies have an office in Albuquerque. Visit www.balloonfiesta.com Guest's Guide PDF, page 19, for a listing.
Where is the field located?
The field is located in North Albuquerque, west of I-25, approximately 12 miles north of the Albuquerque Sunport (Airport), 7 miles north of downtown Albuquerque, and 5 miles east of Rio Rancho.
What are the dates of future Balloon Fiestas?
2014 October 4-12
2015 October 3-11
2016 October 1-9
Where can I purchase Balloon Fiesta Souvenirs?
Souvenirs may be purchased online at www.balloonfiestastuff.com, at Balloon Fiesta's gift shop year round, or on the Park at an official Balloon Fiesta Souvenir tent.
Where can we stay?
Contact Balloon Fiesta Travel to reserve a hotel, click here, (505) 346-0522.
What are typical weather conditions, and what do I wear?
Generally, temperatures in the morning are around 20-40°F, warming up to about 50-70°F by noon. Bring a jacket and dress in layers. Also remember to wear comfortable walking shoes. Bring sunscreen to put on after the sun is up. You will be at a high altitude and are at risk for sunburn. Bring appropriate eye protection. Sun and wind could be your enemies on a bright, sunny or windy day. For further weather information, visit www.balloonfiesta.com.
Can we park our RV at the Field?
We have several areas for parking RVs. You are within walking distance to the field. Check in time is 8:00 am - 7:00 pm. For further details, please see our RV Information page, or contact Jennifer Garcia at the AIBF office at (505) 821-1000 ext. 107.
Are there places to eat on the field?
Yes. There are food vendors at Balloon Fiesta Park serving a variety of foods. There is over 1/3 of a mile of concessions on the field. Watch the amount of alcohol that you drink. You will be at a mile-high altitude which could increase the alcohol's affect.
Where can I learn more about Albuquerque?
Visit the website itsatrip.org, the official website of the Albuquerque Convention & Visitors Bureau to browse an online version of the Official Albuquerque Guest Guide, or request a printed copy by calling the Bureau offices at (800) 284-2282.
How do we contact the Balloon Fiesta directly?
Email us for the quickest response online, or write to:
Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta
4401 Alameda Place NE
Albuquerque, NM 87113
Phone: (505) 821-1000
Fax: (505) 828-2887