Nearest Airport: Albuquerque International Sunport (ABQ) serves as the largest commercial airport in the state of New Mexico.
What to expect: Expect to be blown away by the most amazing display of hundreds of hot air balloons, of all colors and hues, launched into the humble blue sky above. This is a photographer’s paradise.
What to bring: Bring a good quality camera, a pair of sunglasses, coffee or hot chocolate, and a blanket and a sheet, to enjoy the most spectacular scenes ever. Make sure you get to the ballooning site around 4am because it tends to get crowded after that.
Weather: The weather dips in the month of October and it gets chilly as Albuquerque enjoys a desert climate. The maximum temperature on average will be around 24 degrees and the minimum will be 10 degrees centigrade.
When: The festival will start on October 1st and end on October 9th, 2022 (please google for latest information)
Sandia Mountains in the background, clear blue skies, a cold breeze flowing and a flurry of color with 500 balloons of different hues, shapes and sizes, floating up into the crisp air, all at the same time. This, ladies and gentlemen is the description of the most photographed scene in the world – the “International Balloon Fiesta.”
The fiesta takes place every year in Albuquerque, New Mexico, but do not mistake it for an ordinary festival you would normally associate with a desert town. In fact, it is one of the most visited festivals in the world with 750,000 to 800,000 people in attendance each year. Thousands of pilots, crew members and tourists flock in to enjoy the world’s greatest hot air ballooning event.
A balloon ride is always an option among the ideal winds of Albuquerque, and owing to these friendly weather conditions, the city itself is home to 300 balloonists. Small wonder then that Albuquerque has earned the name of the “Balloon Capital of the World”.
The festival was initiated in 1972, with 13 hot air balloonists participating in a “Balloon Fiesta.” 43 years later, tons and tons of balloonists will be sucked into the festivities, making for one of the most colorful sky views. There’s a new theme to be observed each year.
Each morning, a dawn patrol decides if the weather is fit for flying. Tourists can watch the balloons from up close (while they inflate) and mingle with the pilots and crew.
About 2 hours into the preparations, five to six hundred balloons are fully inflated and ready for launch. The moment you had been waiting for, is yours to capture. Operation memories incorporated is in gear, and behold, one of the most breathtaking manmade views of the mass ascension of hundreds of hot air balloons is on display.
Come night, there is a show known as “Balloon Glow” as the several hundred balloons, each a different shape, size and color, light up the night sky, looking like lanterns or twinkling Christmas lights. The icing on the cake, is the magnificent display of fireworks, higher up in the dark skies. “The International Balloon Fiesta” is a magical experience and a photographers’ dream come true.