Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta – Tips and Tricks

The Balloon Fiesta!

We went to this event on the way home from our Grand Circle tour back in October of 2016. So glad we made that one last stop! It proved to be one of the brightest things I’ve ever photographed and one of the coolest things for kids (of all ages).

This is a nine day festival with different events happening every day. It’s broken up into a morning session and an evening one. Last year we attended the morning session on the second day. Even though each day is different, we were happy with what we saw in just a few hours.

I think we set our alarms for 4:30 A.M. By the time we finally came to, got our tiny human ready, and sluggishly made it to the car it was 5:00. The events started at 6:00, but the roads were SO backed-up that we made the 15 minute drive in a record 55 minutes! We were there for the “Mass Ascension”, an event where ALL of the hot air balloons go up at once. A truly amazing sight. Highly recommend! It was super fun getting there in the dark and seeing the fire light up in huge blasts and fill the balloons up with air.

Each time a balloon left the ground the crowd cheered like they had just seen the end of the best talent show ever. You are able to sit back and watch, but also feel like you are a part of it.

After the balloons all began to fade in the distance we strolled over to watch chainsaw wood carving competition. You heard correctly. Five men and one woman were given 90 minutes to carve a huge block of wood into something beautiful. Their only tool: a chainsaw. We were glued to the fence.

You have NO idea what they are working on until BAM! All of a sudden you can tell.

Here are 4 quick tips on how to rock your first balloon fiesta:

  1. Read up on photography tips on how to shoot while it’s still completely dark. You’ll be glad you did.
  2. Bring lawn chairs or a blanket. The neatest thing is just watching the balloons go up and it’s much better sitting down.
  3. Bring your own food and drinks. Totally allowed and totally cheaper than what the venders offer.
  4. Go EARLY!!! We tried to get there 30 minutes before the very first thing started, but the exits were waaaaaay backed up.

Day 10 of 10 on a loooong road trip.

May the force by with you.

Here’s another one for your bucket list!


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