If you haven’t heard of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta then you have GOT to look it up! It is definitely something to see!! There are over 500 hot air balloons — its the largest balloon festival in the world. It’s 9 days long and we went for 2 of them.
Now, we are not experts on this fiesta. We are not locals and we do not know many ins and outs of this event. I will, however, share what we DO know!
WHEN TO GO
Early. Always, always, ALWAYS go early or you will be stuck in traffic for hours. We went to the Night Glow (also called the “Twilight Twinkle Glow”). It started at 6pm and we left at 4pm in order to get there and get a ‘good spot.’ We didn’t sit in much traffic (maybe 20 minutes). The Night Glow was AMAZING!! So many balloons glowing around you – it was magical.
We also went to the Mass Ascension the following morning. We left bright and early at 4:30am to get there. We were probably a little too early on this one BUT it’s better to be early than late, in my opinion.
I want to add a quick tip here: you can buy your tickets to the fiesta at Costco or online prior to going. You won’t have to wait in as many lines if you purchase ahead of time. You’ll also save a little bit of money. 🙂 We didn’t do this – but next time we will.
CAMPING AT THE FIESTA
There is the option to camp right at the fiesta. However, we opted out of this based on our friends recommendation (we driveway surfed at this house instead). After being there and experiencing the fiesta, next time we go we will be staying in the ‘dry camping’ section. We aren’t a fan of crowds (we actually HATE crowds) but once you’re done at the fiesta, you can go right back to your RV and decompress. There’s no leaving before everyone else does to avoid traffic jams and there’s no worrying about forgetting things (I forgot an extra jacket). It would have been so convenient to stay on-site. Lesson learned for next time!
LEAVE YOURSELF SEVERAL DAYS TO GO
If you plan on going to the fiesta plan to give yourself a couple days to go. Reason being the balloons can’t always go up every morning or every evening. Weather in ABQ is unpredictable. Some mornings are too windy so they can’t go up. We got extremely lucky when we went. The Balloon Glow didn’t have any issues (until the very end when the wind picked up) and the Mass Ascension went perfectly in the morning. We had left ourselves about 4 days to see all the things we wanted to see. If you’re staying at the fiesta, stay for at least 3-4 days to make sure you can see the balloons go up! 🙂 It’s SO cool to see them above your RV and all around you from the roof of your RV!
Overall, we enjoyed the balloon fiesta. Next year we will probably stay at the fiesta like I mentioned earlier. It’s quite a different experience when you stay right on site. The fiesta, to me, resembled a fair-like atmosphere -except with some better food choices and yummier coffee! Bring a blanket and a chair, your camera and wear layers! You’ll have a magical time! I promise!