Balloon Fiesta will create a magical world of special-shaped rodeos, sunset glows and colorful skies in Albuquerque from the 2nd to the 10th of October. Cool fall mornings in the Rio Grande Valley are set to provide an otherworldly background for the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta’s most popular event, the Mass Ascension.
Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque began in 1972 when a group of 13 balloonists gathered in a shopping mall parking lot to launch their whimsy aircraft. The Balloon Fiesta will be held in Albuquerque’s sparkling blue skies for the 49th time in 2021. When it comes to worldwide ballooning events, the Balloon Fiesta is unmatched thanks to the ideal October weather and a phenomena known as “the Albuquerque Box” (a combination of weather patterns and geographic landscape, the box allows balloonists to control and even retrace their adventure).
The Balloon Fiesta Park is a 360-acre park with 100 acres of grass and balloon-filled booths and concessions. More than 580 hot-air and gas-filled balloons were launched during the 2019 Balloon Fiesta. Additionally, there were pilots from 17 different countries in attendance, as well as more than 80 food and product merchants. Balloon Fiesta is where the morning burrito first gained notoriety as a quick and convenient lunch for pilots.
A fixture of Balloon Fiesta since its start, the Mass Ascension is a launch of all the participating balloons and the most spectacular display of music and color in all of aviation. Balloons launch in two waves during mass ascents. In reference to their black-and-and-white striped uniforms, launch directors are also called zebras because they act as traffic enforcers, ensuring a safe and orderly departure of the balloons. At around 7:00 a.m. on mass ascension days, weather permitting, balloons start taking off, led by a balloon carrying an American flag and to the tune of The Star Spangled Banner.
Albuquerque pilots inflated balloons on Christmas Eve night in 1979 as a thank you to locals and came up with the idea for the balloon glows. With the advent of glow events taking place throughout the world, people may enjoy seeing gigantic holiday decorations lit from the inside out like giant Christmas trees at night. As of 1987, the world’s largest hot air balloon, the Balloon Glow, was released by Balloon Fiesta.
During the Balloon Glow, when all of the balloons fire their burners and light up at once, it is one of the most stunning sights at Balloon Fiesta. New Mexico’s most impressive fireworks displays follow the Balloon Glows, which have become one of Balloon Fiesta’s most popular activities.
The America’s Challenge Gas Balloon Race is one of the world’s top two long-distance gas balloon races. There are similarities to the Coupe Aeronautique Gordon Bennett (the oldest air race in the world and world championships for long-distance gas ballooning), but there are also differences. The older event only allowed balloons from specific countries to compete, whereas this event allows balloons from all countries to enter. The winning team is the one that has traveled the farthest. Since the 49th Annual Balloon Fiesta has been moved to 2021, the 2021 America’s Challenge will now take place on October 2, 2021.