We’ve always wanted to go to the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. Ever since Sarah was a little girl and had a pen pal (yes, before email), her best friend from elementary school moved away to New Mexico. When she wrote, she shared all about the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta and all of the different shapes of balloons. When we had the opportunity to visit Albuquerque with Alaska Airlines, we decided to schedule our trip around the Balloon Fiesta. A couple we met at brunch at Los Poblanos had also scheduled their trip around the Balloon Fiesta after seeing it in an old Kodak ad.
The Balloon Glow is one of the most popular events at the Fiesta. It’s quite the scene, and is followed by a fireworks display. The Balloon Glow follows the launch of several gas balloons, which we never knew existed before the Fiesta. We assumed that the hot air balloons you see around Napa and other picturesque destinations were the only kind around. However, there are also gas balloons, which are filled with helium or hydrogen and the pilot can either release gas or drop weight from the basket (typically water or sand) to regulate the altitude. The Fiesta features a race with these white gas balloons.
For the Balloon Glow, the balloons are all laid out in a giant field at dusk, so it can get cold and muddy – depending on the weather. We recommend dressing comfortably in layers. You can talk with the balloon teams while they wait to roll out and fill their balloons, and we loved meeting some of the pilots who had traveled from around the country for the Fiesta.
The Fiesta is held over multiple days, the traffic can be difficult throughout the entire event. If you want to beat the crowds, take a ride share or taxi to the Balloon Glow, and then leave a little early to go to dinner before the crowds leave. We went to Farm & Table for dinner and had a fantastic time – traffic free!
Thank you to Alaska Airlines for sponsoring this post.