New Mexico is a diverse area, known as the Land of Enchantment. From incredible natural rock formations to colourful wildflower fields, it certainly has some of the most unique landscapes in all the USA. New Mexico is also world-famous for being the birthplace, and home, of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. With the 2023 event coming up from 7 – 15 October, we thought it apt to dive into a short history on the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta
Photo by photobyjl on Instagram

It all began back in 1972. The local 770 KOB Radio station was organising celebrations for its 50th birthday and the Roadrunner-Coyote Balloon Race was a feature, which involved thirteen participants (the ‘coyotes’) trying to land the closest to the Roadrunner balloon. And, as they say, the rest is history! 

Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta
Photo by rvcruising on Instagram

Since 1972, the event has evolved into the world’s largest balloon festival. The Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta is held every year in early October over nine days at the Balloon Fiesta Park, recently celebrating its own 50th anniversary in 2022. The number of registrations peaked in 2000 with 1,019 avid balloon experts, and this has decreased and increased over the years with participants now capped at 1,000 to ensure quality over quantity.  

Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta
Photo by airplaneandie on Instagram

Considered to be the world’s most photographed event, it’s no wonder with the sheer amount of thrilling events that are held throughout the Fiesta. Not only does this include the historic Roadrunner-Coyote Balloon Race, but also:  

  • Dawn Patrol: expert balloon pilots take off before sunrise and fly until it is light enough to see the landing sites 
  • Mass Ascension: the most popular of all events, all participating balloons launch in two waves to fill the sky! The first wave usually coincides with the sunrise at 7am to create a truly magical moment 
  • Special Shape Rodeo: as the name suggests, this event is for all the non-traditional, uniquely shaped balloons to take flight 
  • Balloon Glows: held at night, balloons stay grounded but are illuminated by their propane burners 
Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta
Photo by Stephanie Klepacki on Unsplash

There are also plenty of Special Events involving piloting, skill and speed-based competitions that keep fiesta attendees of all ages enthralled. While the balloons are – of course – the ultimate reason to go, there are also cultural exhibitions around New Mexican culture and history to expand your knowledge of this special place.  

If you want to be a part of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, Globus offers two tours which include the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta – Historic Trains of the Old West and Enchanted New Mexico.  

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