Where Is the World’s Largest Hot Air Balloon Festival?

Where Is the World’s Largest Hot Air Balloon Festival?

Hot Air Balloons are adventurous, fun, and risk-controlled activities that we would rather not pass up an opportunity of. Many hold the same belief as us; the number of people who take delight in watching or climbing up a hot-air balloon is steadily increasing and for good reasons. 

So much that there is a hot air balloon festival that takes place every year. 

The hot air balloon festival is a gathering of balloon operators to showcase their enterprising journey. This is alongside allowing the general public a glorious view of the airborne amazement. It tends to imbibe a sense of wonder in the onlookers. 

The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is one such festival. It has amassed over a million attendees and continues to grow in diversity and numbers. But what is the festival about? What can you there and why is it such a show-turner among many other attractions? Read on to find out more.

About Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta 

In the first weekend of October, many people descend in New Mexico to see the hundreds of hot air balloons being launched into the air. The sight that they form across Duke City’s skyline deserves a description of its own. It is a nine-day long festival in which more than 500 hot air balloons embark on their journey of the skies. 

History of Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

A notable part of the festival is contributed by the legacy that the festival is popularly known for. 

The Balloon Fiesta was a commemorative event to be held as a part of KBOB Radio’s 10th birthday party in 1972. The then manager Dick McKee asked Sid Cutter, the owner of the Cutter Flying Service if the hot air balloons that he owned can be used at this party. 

After details talking, the duo, along with Oscar Kratz, agreed and successfully launched 13 balloons into the sky with their pilots on 8th April. The first launching happened from the Coronado Shopping Center parking lot, a sight witnessed by a mere 20,000 spectators.

It was sponsored by KOB then but has since begun to garner more sponsors than imaginable. In 2018, the number of balloons in the air was 650 and counting and amassed a visitor count of 850 thousand and more. 

Incorporated alongside the sightly adventures are the fairs and events that happen on the ground. McKee, Cutter, and Kratz became the founders of balloon racing by the name Roadrunner-Coyote Balloon Race. There is one balloon that is a roadrunner while the rest are coyotes, and they are all tested on how close a coyote can land next to a roadrunner. 

In the following years, many other airborne and ground-level activities were introduced, many of which continue to marvel at the current day visitors. The next Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta came to the public’s sight in February and had since begun to attract international attention. 

That was also the last time the festival was launched in February. This decision was made after learning that the winds were far more favorable in Autumn. 

Events at the Fiesta 

While the sky offers its exorbitant view, there’s always a lot more happening on the ground, as well as a mix of both of them. 

Dawn Patrol 

Dawn Patrol began in 1978 when two Californian balloonists developed the idea for both aesthetic and meteorological purposes. Those who can wake early before sunrise can reach the park and wait for the lit-up balloons to fly. 

These balloons light the sky up in their colors a few hours before dawn and help the moderators to understand the wind directions. This early morning activity provides information on the speeds and intensity at various altitudes and searches for landing spaces when there’s just enough light after sunrise.

Mass Ascensions 

The Fiesta is a hot air balloon festival. It is only likely for you to see a huge number of balloons overtaking the visible sky all at once in waves. 

Every registered balloon takes off at the same time, and the Zebra admins (known as such due to their black and white striped uniforms) coordinate the directions and routes for smoother air transit. 

Balloon Glows

Balloon Glows follow the same principle as that of mass ascension except, the balloons are static in the air instead of taking off at that moment. 

There are plenty, bordering on uncountable, number of balloons in the air at once. Then in one magical moment in the evening, the propane lanterns in the balloons begin to flicker like fireflies. It is a spectacular scene that is not worth missing. If you’re heading there, make sure to stay for the Glowdeo and Balloon Glows. 

Hot Air Balloon Ride 

This goes without saying. Balloon Ryders’ Inc. is a renowned balloon rides service provider with whom you can book a hot air balloon ride.

What’s more exciting is knowing how you may be able to glimpse the chance of witnessing a hot air balloon race while you are in the air. It sounds like it makes a memory for a lifetime, doesn’t it?

Artistic Exhibition 

Balloons can be a medium of expressing art and other media of choice. Many operators and enterprisers who come to fly their balloons show the artistic element through them. They also serve as a mode of earning for the local painters and artisans in the area. 

Due to this diversity, the sky is a sight to behold when these artistic balloons are in the air. This also tends to include special shape rodeos, a keen and specific hot air balloon shape that is not traditional. This includes balloons shaped like birds or soda cans and more cruising the air. 

Events and Other Competitions 

In addition to the above-mentioned events, there is a lot more going on that might pull your attention. 

There exists a Fiesta challenge where the hot air balloon operators try to pilot their way in the sky and drop something as a marker closest to a predetermined goal. All of this happens from a great height, so the event is very intriguing yet humorous to watch. 

In America’s Challenge Gas Balloon Race, specially built long-distance balloons are set off to challenge and check just how far they can travel. A few have managed to go as far as reaching Canada too. The winner is the one whose balloon travels the fastest. 

As a part of expressing cultures, artistic culminations, and talents, balloonists have come to take off the balloon the country’s national anthem and a flag. This is commonly referred to as Flight of the Nations Mass Ascension.

There are other preening, and careening activities meant for pilots and operators to take part in and challenge their air management skills against the rest of them. 

The first festival was a result of a party initiation. Many music artists and performers are often invited to enjoy the Music Fiesta around the time of the balloon carnival. The spot also makes for an excellent picking and camping site. 

How to Prepare for the Fiesta 

Attending a festival as grand as this may seem to require less attention to detail. That is, however, not true. 

The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta lasts for over more than a week, so adding a little bit of planning to your itinerary can significantly improve your experience at the Fiesta. 

This includes pre-booking. The festival is growing with every successive year and thus increasing the numbers. Booking rides, ensuring your stay in the hotels, the food charges, and sign-ups for different activities all pile-up. Being aware of what you can enjoy there and thereby planning on how you will spend your time can make all the difference. 

The Fiesta’s website also provides a schedule and a detailed map to refer to. Events keep happening on and off, and knowing about the sights beforehand that you do not want to miss will save you time and effort. 

The events at the Fiesta and the set-up of the festival itself are very inexpensive in comparison to other large festivals. Despite that, do carry some money with you, whenever you need it. 

The Fiesta is taking place in a grandly large park. Coming prepared with proper walking shoes, clothes, and other accessories is essential. Balloons and events occur in various places in the park, which you can keep track of with a map. This might require you to move quite a bit, so be prepared for that is advised. 

Finally, always keep your camera ready! If you choose to take pictures, keep your phone and camera equipment charged and ready. Don’t forget to keep yourself charged too. 

Fun Fiesta Facts 

The first Fiesta included a Roadrunner balloon that looked very much like WarnerBros. characters. Shape rodeo has thus existed since forever. 

In 2001 and 2009, the board introduced a cap on how many balloons can be airborne or are allowed to participate. This was because, in 2000, the Fiesta was a host to more than 1020 balloons!

The Balloon Fiesta park also contains a museum by the name Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum. It is dedicated to all facts, variations, history, sport, and science of balloons and piloting them. 

The Fiesta is the largest event in the US. It is larger than the Sundance Film Festival, Comic-Con, or even Coachella. 

The Fiesta is a major host for local businesses to run their stalls and talents in. It provides a medium of expression, sales, and awareness for them that ties well with the culture and diversity. 

Albuquerque Box was a term coined to understand the wind, directions, and temperature to decide on times when it is safe to let the balloons take off. This is one of the most critical contributors to the success of the Fiesta. This box is merely but a name given to a pattern of predictable wind directions that can be used to the launching merit. 

Other Festivals 

If you’ve already been to this festival or want to go somewhere else first before heading to Albuquerque, try going to the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta in England. 

Otherwise, you can head to the Taiwan Balloon Festival that just rose to popularity for being one of the biggest ones in the diversity of music, food, and balloons. If neither of the above, you can visit Grand Est Mondial Air in France, which is the second-largest balloon festival in the world. 

In Summary

Hot Air Balloons are exciting sights and adventurous activities to partake in. The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is the largest festival known and for some enthusiastic reasons. Wondering where you might want to go on vacation this time? Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta can be your answer.