It's a bird, it's a plane it's a hot air balloon! The Albuquerque International Balloon Festival is held every year the first week of October ever since Albuquerque won a bid to host the 1973 World Hot Air Ballooning Championships and has become the official balloon capital of the world. The event attracts thousands of pilots and spectators to witness hot air ballooning activities.

"Balloon Inflating" by Ingrid Truemper via Flickr Creative Commons

Albuquerque Aloft

Aloft is a fun way to kick off the week long Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. Pilots launch their balloons on selected school grounds which are an opportunity to get the community involved and excited about the event. Teachers, students and parents get the chance to meet the pilots and learn how to fly a balloon. The event is the only balloon fiesta to have pre-designated launch sites outside of Balloon Fiesta park.

Dawn Patrol

In 1978, two California balloonists discovered lighting techniques to enable them to fly at night. Dawn Patrol pilots fly until landing spots are visible giving other balloonists the chance to get an idea of wind speeds. Depending on the weather, Dawn Patrol inflation begins at 5:45 am everyday of the Balloon Fiesta and launch at 6 am.

"Mass Ascension" by Eric Ward via Flickr Creative Commons

Mass Ascension

During the mass ascension at the Balloon Fiesta, balloons are launched in waves decorating the morning sky with brilliant color and sound. Launch directors in black and white striped outfits, also known as zebras, direct pilots to make sure they take off safely.

Balloon Glows

Balloon Glows is a sight to see as balloons light up the night sky like giant ornaments. One of the most spectacular moments is when all the balloon fire burners are lit up at the same time. Balloon Glows is followed by New Mexico's greatest fireworks display for more evening fun.

Special Shape Rodeo

The Special Shape Rodeo started in 1989 and is the most popular event at the Balloon Fiesta. Balloons designed in a variety of shapes and characters are launched two mornings in a row and have glow shows in the evening. The evening shows have been named the Special Shape Glowdeo.


If the balloon shows are not enough, other forms of entertainment includes a performance from the Albuquerque Air Jump Rope Team and live music.

Balloon Discovery Center

The Balloon Discovery Center attracts 30,000 visitors every year. Visitors get the chance to see how hot air balloon work with different interactive balloon exhibits catering to people of all ages. Balloon Fiesta attendees also get the chance to learn about NASA aeronautics. Daily presentations are held by NASA aerospace engineering technicians.