[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oYnPiMxJcxg[/youtube]Grab your breakfast burrito and camera, it’s the 40th annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, Oct. 1 through Oct. 9. The largest ballooning event in the world sees 750 balloonist from around the globe gather in the Duke City for camaraderie and competition.
It’s been 40 years since the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta began humbly at the Coronado Mall and has grown to the world-famous event that it is today. Capped at 750 balloons, this spectacular display is one of the few in the world where visitors can walk right up to the balloons, and even help with their launch and recovery. In 2000, 1,000 balloons lifted off for the World’s Record; that number has been dialed back to 750 balloons for safety.
The week-long event takes off Sat. Oct. 1 with a 6:30 a.m. morning glow, followed by a mass ascension of balloons. That evening, at 5:45 p.m. there’s another balloon glow, followed by the launching of America’s Challenge Gas Balloon Race. Sunday, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 9, see a mass ascension of balloons. Thursday and Friday are reserved for the Special Shapes Rodeo, with a Special Shapes Glodeo scheduled for those evenings at 5:45 p.m., followed by fireworks. Throughout the week balloon pilots compete for prizes and bragging rights with key-grabs, target throws and other games.
Albuquerque is famous as a ballooning capital because of its favorable wind current, called the Albuquerque Box, which allows pilots to lift, travel, descend and return near their take-off point. This, combined with Albuquerque’s clear skies, cool morning temperatures and open spaces, makes it perfect for ballooning here. The AIBF is the most photographed event in the world.
Tickets this year are $8 for adults; children 12 and younger are admitted free to the balloon fiesta. The ticket price includes entry to the Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum. Vehicle parking is $10.