You might not think of Albuquerque as a place for a popular festival, but it hosts the beloved Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta each year in October. This year it will be even bigger than before as it is marking its 50th anniversary from October 1-9. If you are curious about the festival and what there is to do, look no further! We have 10 things you must know about the fiesta ahead of the big event!

1. What Is It?

It is a festival for kids and kids at heart that brings in guests from all over the world to celebrate ballooning on a 78-acre launch field. Hundreds of thousands of people turn out each year to enjoy all the festival has to offer, from entertainment to balloon rides, and it is a must-see if you are in New Mexico in early October! The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta takes place in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It is situated at Balloon Fiesta Park just one mile west of I-25.

2. What Is A Session?

A session is all of the events in the park for the day that occur from 4:30 a.m. until noon or from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. Please note there are no evening sessions on Monday through Wednesday and the second Sunday.

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3. How Can You Buy Tickets?

You can purchase tickets for the festival on the event’s website, with General Admission only costing $15 for those over 12. However, if you want to buy Park and Ride tickets, several options are available: Children under 5 are free, tickets for those aged 6-12 cost $10; adults are $22 and seniors(62+) $20. If you just want to get a ride on the bus to the festival, it is $12. Get your tickets ahead of time because prices increase for purchase on the day you want to visit! There are also special tickets with higher prices, listed under the club prices, which range from $65 per child to $125 for adults.

4. What’s Unique?

Glamping! Within walking distance of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, you can go glamping in a tent village with the Sandia Mountains as the backdrop. Twin and queen beds are available for three nights. You will also be provided with admission to the event for the entire duration of your stay, premium parking, a welcome gift, linens and pillows, a heater and refrigerator, a heated blanket, and a lamp and lantern. You also get access to power for your electronic devices, restrooms and a shower trailer, and a hospitality area to cook and play games. Glamping comes with a steep price ranging from $1,500 to $2,500 depending on your type of bed and number of occupants.

5. What Is There For Entertainment?

You can’t have a festival without music, and the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta hosts Music Fiesta, which is promising a superstar lineup, including country music star Cole Swindell. General Admission is just $15, while Reserved Seating ranges from $55-$65. Tickets to sit on the lawn are $30, and the special ABQ “Dance” Box is $75.

6. What Is The Special Mass Ascension Event?

It is the highlight of the week where all of the participating balloons launch in two waves. It begins at 7 a.m. with one ballon flying the American flag as the Star Spangled Banner plays. The festival dubs the two-hour event the “most spectacular display of sound and colour in all of aviation.” A highly popular event, launch directors, who are known as zebras due to their black and white outfits, coordinate the launches to ensure a safe and spectacular viewing experience.

7. How Can I Ride On A Ballon?

The official balloon ride is called Rainbow Ryders’ and reservations must be made to take a ride on the balloon. You can call to make a reservation (505-823-1111) or visit their website.

8. Is There An Opportunity To Learn More About Ballooning?

Yes! The Balloon Discovery Center at the north end of the park provides hands-on experience in the sport and science of ballooning. You even get a behind-the-scenes look at the festival operations, and around 30,000 people visit this part of the festival each year. It’s free once you are inside the festival gates and is open from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. and again from 3:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.

9. What Should I Wear?

You are going to be walking a lot, so comfortable walking shoes are a must! Morning temperatures range from 20-40°F, and it usually warms up to around 50-70°F by noon. So you definitely need to pack a jacket, gloves and other items to stay warm in the morning; sunscreen is advised as you will be at a high altitude where you could quickly get sunburnt.

10. What Is The Flight Of Nations?

It takes place during Mass Ascension and honors all countries represented in the festival. There are up to two balloons for each country, and they also carry their country’s flag. It occurs during the Wednesday Mass Ascension.

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