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  • Writer's picturePamela Guffey

Exploring the Beauty of the USA: Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

Time to venture back to the Southwest and literally fly up, up and away across the Rio Grande Valley of New Mexico for an amazing colorful display punctuating the sky. For nine days each October, hundreds of thousands of spectators emerge on the region as close to 600 hot-air balloons, in all shapes and colors, fill the air with their splendor. Locals and guests alike will tell you that is an awesome sight to behold bringing excitement to young and old.

Take a look at events that will be part of this year's fun.

Dawn Patrol -- There is no sleeping around here as the Dawn Patrol starts the daily festivities around 5:45am. Using lighting systems that allow them to fly at night, the Dawn Patrol pilots will take off in the dark and fly until its light enough to see the landing sites. On mass ascension days about a dozen balloons perform the Dawn Patrol Show, a choreographed inflation and launch set to music that has been part of the Balloon Fiesta since 1996.

Mass Ascension -- 7:00 am is when observers get to see the launch of all the participating balloons led by a balloon flying the American flag to the strains of The Star Spangled Banner. The mass ascension has been a feature of Balloon Fiesta since its earliest days and is the most spectacular display of sound and color in all of aviation. During mass ascensions, balloons launch in two waves. Launch directors, also known as zebras because of their black-and-white-striped outfits, serve as traffic cops, coordinating the launch so balloons leave the field in a safe and coordinated manner.

America's Challenge Gas Balloon Race -- modeled after the Coupe Aeronautique Gordon Bennett, the world's oldest balloon race, it draws balloons from all countries for a world class distance race. The balloon that travels the longest distance is the winner. And this is not a race for the faint-hearted - the longest distance recorded was in 2017 with 2275 miles in just under 60 hours

Balloon Glow--The events now known as balloon glows were invented in Albuquerque in 1979 when local pilots inflated balloons on Christmas Eve night as a thank you to local residents. The sight of balloons lit from within at night like giant holiday ornaments is breathtaking and glow events are now held all over the world. Balloon Fiesta launched its Balloon Glow, the world's biggest, in 1987. Balloon Glow all burns, when all the balloons fire their burners and light up at the same time are perhaps the most spectacular single moment in all of Balloon Fiesta. The Balloon Glows, followed by New Mexico's most spectacular fireworks displays, are now among Balloon Fiesta's most popular events. Remote Controlled Balloon Rally -- 2021 will be the inaugural year for this unique and fun event for kids of all ages. Competitions-- balloon teams will compete in a variety of competitions where team members must launch their balloons and fly to designated areas to drop markers on land targets. Its a competition of skill for the whole team. Special Shape Rodeo and Glowdeo-- A special launch on both Thursday and Friday of the Fiesta for these crazy, fun, and creative balloons that have become an extremely popular sight at the Balloon Festival. Balloons fly high both day and night in the Special Shape Rodeo providing an incredible sight for young and young at heart to enjoy.

Other Events

If the Hot Air Balloons aren't enough to keep you busy at the Fiesta, don't worry. There is a plethora of other entertainment that will keep you busy from dawn to dusk each night.

Chainsaw Carving -- A team of professional chainsaw carvers will be showing off their craft each day during the Fiesta. Festival goers will have a chance to wait the chips fly as these artists created some beautiful masterpieces that will be put up for auction each day for some lucky spectator to take home.

Fiesta of Wheels--Hundreds of classic, vintage and special interest vehicles from across the country will parade through the grounds presenting a colorful spectacle to match that of the balloon above.

Balloon Discovery Center-- Balloon enthusiasts and general spectators alike will have the chance to not only enjoy the festival but gain a little knowledge as well though interactive exhibits that illustrate the principles of lighter-than-air flight, the history of the sport, and safety aspects of ballooning. A hot air balloon exhibit has a basket in which kids can "burn" the burners and simulate a balloon flight. Another exhibit demonstrates the "Albuquerque Box" effect, and an Arts & Crafts area tickles the imagination of youngsters about the beauty of balloons.

And don't think it ends there. There is still skydiving, fireworks, live entertainment, food and even a photo contest. It's definitely a week's worth of excitement waiting just for you. From early morning riser to a dedicated night owl, the Albuquerque Balloon Festival is sure to excite and entertain everyone in the family. And even though this year's event is still six months away, now is the time to get a trip planned, reserved and on the calendar so you are sure to get the best seat in the house, or in this case the spot in the field, to have a flying high great experience at this unique and memorable world class annual festival.

Contact your Diserella Travel Consultant today to find the perfect way to visit and explore all the Balloon Fiesta has in store.

About the Author:

Pamela has been visiting the Walt Disney World parks for over 30 years, first as a child herself and most recently with her granddaughter.

Contact her today to start planning your magical vacation.


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