My first visit to the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta


Last month, I traveled to New Mexico to see family. All of mom’s immediate family has been anchored out there since she was a teen, so the trips tend to be pretty regular with three brothers, and now a niece and nephew (my cousins, although separated by 25 years) to visit.

When you’ve spent cumulatively half a year of your life out there, one of the urges is to get a bit more organized and plan trips around things you’ve never done before.  In recent years that meant visiting in July and doing a vineyard tour, going in September to attend the state fair, and this year, to take a trip in October to check out the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.

There’s actually multiple types of sessions over a nine-day event, from the special shape rodeo, the morning ascensions, which most people familiar with the festival knows, and the event we attended, the Evening Balloon Glow.


In the glow, the balloons don’t actually take to the air, but are instead inflated on the field, where people can walk all around and interact, and as it gets darker the balloons being flared leads to the actual glow name.  At certain points a synchronized burn happens to get the effect like you see above.  It ends with a firework display that can best be described as multi-directional, as they fire them off from different points on the edge of the field to give a more multi-dimensional show.

Going with kids makes it more fun, as they get to go up to the balloons, request their individual trading cards, and even occasionally get into the basket during a burn, which lets them get a taste of what it’s like to be inside. (I couldn’t resist going inside one myself.)

I also brought home souvenirs in the form of pins; collectible pins is one of the hallmarks of the event.  With the series “Breaking Bad” having just ended, one company, Plano Pin, created a “Ballooning Bad” pin that was such a phenomenon long lines waited to buy their limited inventory.  Fortunately they allowed online orders, and as of this writing they’re still available on their website. Mine arrived a few days ago and joined the rest of the pins I picked up while out there.

I’m glad we did it, and I hope we get to do it again, as it was definitely a memorable trip. Those looking for a trip that’s a bit different may find this a great take-in.

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