One of our favorite annual activities, now that we live here in suburban Albuquerque, is the annual hot-air balloon festival that takes place during the first week in October each year. In the past, the festival has attracted as many as almost 1000 hot-air balloons from all over the world. We typically draw 500-600 each year.
The festival began in 1972 with only 13 hot-air balloons. It is now the largest single gathering of hot-air balloons in the world. One of the reasons the festival is so well attended is because of our unique atmospheric conditions that lend so well to balloonists. It is very typical for us to have a circular flow of winds in the lower atmosphere – the Albuquerque “box”. That typically allows balloonists to change the direction of their flight by simply going lower or higher into the air.
Our gorgeous and typically warm weather in October certainly is a draw as well. Although the early mornings can certainly get cold on occasion, it is not uncommon for us to have daytime temperatures consistently in the high 60’s and 70’s.
The most celebrated of the activities during the nine day fiesta are the almost daily “mass ascensions” when most of the balloons ascend over the course of about an hour and a half period. It is not uncommon for the sky to be filled with hundreds of balloons at one time.
But there are also other daytime and evening activities, such as fireworks, balloon races, balloon agility contests and the spectacular evening “balloon glo”. That is when balloons are filled in the early evening but they do not ascend. As the gas flames heat the air inside the balloons, the colors of the many balloons light up individually and in unison.
Another favorite thing are the many different shaped balloons that we have each year. They have become more and more elaborate each year as we attract even more different countries to attend.
Ballooning is subject to the vaguaries of the weather. On the first day of this year’s festival (2019), the winds were fine but there was a thick fog rolling in from the west and eventually covering the Fiesta field where the approx. 600 balloons were scheduled to take off. By the time the fog cleared, it was too late to fly. But there is always tomorrow, and the next eight days as well, since Balloon Fiesta runs for nine days at the beginning of each October.
Our home is located just a few miles north and a bit west of the balloon fiesta grounds where most of the balloons take off. Depending upon the direction of the winds, we often have balloons flying right overhead, and sometimes they literally land on the street right outside of our home. Our dog Lucas goes particularly crazy when he sees the balloons flying overhead.
In 2019, on one of mornings, the balloon that I crew for, the Rising Star, flew into Rio Rancho and landed less than a mile from our home. Deborah saw it flying her way and then walked over to it and greeted us.
I invite you to take a look at pictures I have taken at various balloon fiestas over the past seven years – the last five of which we have lived here in Rio Rancho.
Picture Location on the Internet – Photobucket.com
Pictures from the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta …
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Editor’s Note: I apologize in advance for the number of pop-up ads that often display when you are viewing these pictures on Photobucket. It’s one of the prices you pay when you use the free version of the site. When I first started using Photobucket years ago, there were virtually no ads.