If you’re willing and able to drive eight hours east you could be attending what has been described as the most photographed event in the world. It is a truly spectacular sight and you’d better do it now rather than wait till later. Right now you can get so close to this event that you’re actually standing in the center of it. It seems highly likely that one of these days the rules will change and you’ll have to sit in a grandstand to watch it. It will still be sensational but it just will not compare with the feeling of being right in the very heart of what is happening as it transpires.
I am speaking of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta that takes place from October 5th through October 13th in beautiful Albuquerque, New Mexico. The eight hour drive from Las Vegas is a scenic one and well worth the time and energy to view this tremendous show. No where else in the world will you find 750 hot air balloons taking off, wave after wave, into the brilliant blue sky.
Albuquerque is famous among balloon pilots for this event and for the wind patterns that make the flying competitions so much fun. The “Albuquerque box” as it is called is a wind pattern that often has the wind blowing one direction close to the ground and the opposite direction at higher altitudes, making it possible for a balloon to take off, fly in one direction,change altitude and fly back to the starting point. Because of this pattern it is possible to stage competitions right in the take-off area where spectators can watch the balloons launch and leave and then return to demonstrate their flying skills by dropping markers on targets on the field or grabbing a key to a new car or truck from a post as they fly by. That key fits the ignition of the prize for the first pilot to successfully grab that key in a fly-by!
There are plenty of other events for visitors to enjoy as well, including an evening “glow” when the tethered balloons fire up their propane heaters to light up the canopies, scheduled flights throughout the ten day event, food and craft vendors, art shows, a car show and even a chainsaw carving contest.
You won’t want to miss the special shapes balloons that come in from around the world – many from Brazil. Don’t be surprised if you see Elvis, Darth Vader, Jesus, a champagne bottle, Smoky Bear, the bumblebees, a moving truck, even a house, a castle and a stagecoach. There are dozens of these special shaped balloons and, of course, hundreds of more conventional balloons as well as a few slender racing balloons.
Bring the whole family or just your best friend, have a great time and . . .
Keep on Traveling!