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Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta 2018
October 6 - October 14
If you have seen photos of many vividly coloured balloons gliding across semi-arid scenery there is a good chance that those shots come from the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, which runs over several days from 6-14 October and has been held for 47 years.
It is held at this time of year due to the wind conditions known as the ‘Albuquerque Box’, which can take the balloons on a tour of the river valley, the surrounding mountains and bring them back to the 80 acre launch area in the even bigger Balloon Fiesta Park.
The calendar includes a dawn patrol, when the crews lift off in the dark and come into view with the early sun; laser and firework shows; flight competitions; musical entertainment and the dramatic mass ascension when over 500 balloons are launched over two hours. Though it is not cheap, event-approved rides can be organised.
Tickets go for about $15 if bought in advance, but are more costly on the day. There are VIP options with better views and more comfort. Extra public transport is available during the event. Albuquerque can be quite chilly in the morning, but warms up as the day progresses.
The balloon-filled sky also is clearly a draw for those interested in landscape photography.
When in New Mexico, why not go on a road trip. Read: New Mexico Road Trip: UFOs, Ghost Towns & Country Music.
To many, Albuquerque is inescapably connected with the TV series Breaking Bad. So, when you are all ballooned out, there are tours and guides to do-it-yourself walks of the city that take in film locations and trivia from the show. Elsewhere, the aerial tramway to the Sandia Peak at over 10,000 feet gives a great view of the city. There are walks in the hills with petro glyphs to discover, the old town, several museums, a cultural centre and a range of artisan breweries.
For more on the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta there is a downloadable pdf guide for visitors, or visit: http://www.balloonfiesta.com/
Though the airport in Albuquerque is said to be an international one it is actually quite small. It has many domestic connections so foreign travellers will need to land elsewhere and then take a local flight to join the fiesta.