Travel Journal – Hot Air Balloon Fiesta

Hot Air Balloons Take Flight at Balloon Fiesta

by Jill McDonald, Writer & Photographer

Have you ever looked up at the sky and watched a hot air balloon float by? It seems so peaceful and magical to see the world from a bird’s eye view!

Balloons Galore at Balloon Fiesta, Photo by Jill K. McDonald

Have you ever seen a hot air balloon up-close glowing in a field at dawn or dusk? Well here’s an event definitely worth adding to your bucket list – Albuquerque’s International Balloon Fiesta!

The first weekend of every October kicks off nine days of breathtaking views and events! There’s no other event of its kind! 

Balloons Galore at Balloon Fiesta, Photo by Jill K. McDonald

As stated on the event’s website,, “With over 500 balloons, it is the largest ballooning event on earth, the most photographed event on earth, and the largest annual international event held in the United States.”

To accommodate this glorious gathering of hot air balloons and attendees, Balloon Fiesta Park is a custom-designed 365-acre park. The launch field alone is 78-acres, the size of 54 football fields put together!

Balloons Galore at Balloon Fiesta, Photo by Jill K. McDonald

This year my dream of attending Balloon Fiesta became a reality. It had been on my bucket list for many years. Nonetheless, it happened to be the 50th Anniversary of the event!

I’m not sure how I first learned of it, but I’ve always scoured travel articles seeking unique places to explore. When I first caught a glimpse of images of Albuquerque’s sky filled en masse with hot air balloons, I knew I had to witness it at some point in my life. If a small picture can captivate and move you, then you know it’s something that you should experience first hand.

Balloons Galore at Balloon Fiesta, Photo by Jill K. McDonald

Let me share with you a few things I personally loved about this amazing event. Perhaps you too will be inspired to make plans to go to Albuquerque in an upcoming October for Balloon Fiesta!

Highlights of Balloon Fiesta:

  • Absolutely breathtaking to witness a mass of hot air balloons!

There are morning and evening Glow events where balloons are tethered and stationary on the ground, the Special Shape Rodeo where unique and fun character shaped balloons are highlighted, and Mass Ascensions where all participating balloons launch in waves. Everytime a balloon launches, people nearby cheer with delight as they lift off into the sky!

  • Unique variety of entertainment!

Throughout the week, there are chainsaw carving exhibitions to enjoy, skydiving shows, a handcrafted artisans tent, a hands-on children’s tent for all ages, and live concerts including well-known featured music artists.

  • Spectacular fireworks and aerial drone light show!

I was in absolute awe of the festival-themed aerial drone light shows and the firework shows were spectacular! Need I say more?

Balloons Aglow at Balloon Fiesta, Photo by Jill K. McDonald

So if you’re looking for an experience of a lifetime, why not start planning ahead to make Albuquerque, New Mexico’s Balloon Fiesta a reality for you as well.

For all your FAQs about the event, including tickets, parking, free bicycle valet, lodging options, and balloon rides, check out the wealth of latest information on the festival’s website:

Balloons Aglow at Balloon Fiesta, Photo by Jill K. McDonald

As with any outdoor event, weather conditions play a key role in safety. Before every morning and evening session, the balloon pilots gather for a weather briefing. This year was an unseasonably wet year, so planning to enjoy the festival for several days will allow the best chance to fully experience the events.

Wishing you, my readers, many great adventures! Safe and happy travels! 🙂

Jill (elated, viewing the inflated) at the 50th Balloon Fiesta, Photo by Jill K. McDonald

Jill K. McDonald is a freelance nature & travel writer, photographer, and speaker. She can be reached by email at or connect with her on Facebook at:

About Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta: The 50th Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, powered by ExxonMobil, took place October 1-9, 2022 in Albuquerque, NM. Learn more online at

From time to time, we will be showcasing places of interest and locations where some of our team members have traveled. If you have a place that you would like to share, email us here.

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