New Mexico will once again host the world’s largest gathering of hot air and gas balloon enthusiasts during the 2017 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. The annual event runs for nine days, with this year’s festivities kicking off on October 7. Morning birds will be treated to a special Laser Light Show every morning at 5:45 a.m. and most days will conclude with the 8 p.m. AfterGlow Fireworks Show.
The first gas and hot air balloons will take to the sky at approximately 7 a.m. on October 7. Two waves will elevate balloonists from all over the world into flight during the annual Mass Ascension. In other words, as long as the weather cooperates, 750 balloons will practically blot out the sky above Albuquerque’s Balloon Fiesta Park.
The Balloon Fiesta’s Origins
There are so many balloons and annual visitors that the Balloon Fiesta Park is 365 acres, which includes a launch field that’s equal to more than 50 football fields laid end-to-end. This represents massive growth since the first festival in 1972. At that time, only 13 hot air balloons participated, but the event still managed to attract 20,000 spectators.
After such a successful initial turnout, it’s no wonder that Albuquerque combined the Balloon Fiesta with the World Hot Air Balloons Event in 1975. Today, the festival receives so many applications from hot and gas air balloonists that it’s necessary to stick to a cap of 750 balloons per year. Before instituting this cap, the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta swelled to an enormous 1,000 balloons in 2000.
What Can Visitors Expect?
Aside from viewing 750 gas and hot air balloons, visitors can expect to mingle with a crowd of 100,000 attendees. There’s also much more to see and do than just the central attraction.
On Saturday, October 14, the 2017 Music Fiesta begins at 1 p.m. with a performance by The Bus Tapes. Other artists who will take the stage include Phil Vassar and Billy Currington. This a separate ticketed event, but tickets start at only $10. To encourage the family-friendly vibe of the Balloon Fiesta, children 12 and under receive free admission for the premier lawn and general admission seating areas.
Families may also wish to attend Kids’ Day, which takes place this year on Thursday, October 12. One of the events that make this particular day noteworthy is the Special Shape Glowdeo. Balloons shaped like popular cartoon characters, pigs, cacti, castles, witches, and much more begin their ascent at 5 p.m., followed by the gorgeous glow of staying afloat during sunset.
Other events spread out throughout the nine-day Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta include chainsaw carving, a gas balloon race, the Fiesta of Wheels Car Show, and the Flight of the Nations. With all of these program highlights crammed into one annual show, it’s no wonder that the Balloon Fiesta has rightfully claimed the title of the most photographed event in the world.
Individual daily tickets are still available, starting at $10. Attendees should be aware that the parking fee starts at $15, which can only be avoided by arriving via bicycle or having an RV site pass. Much like this year’s total solar eclipse, the Balloon Fiesta attracts such a massive crowd that traffic jams are expected throughout the local area. Plan accordingly to arrive in time for your preferred 2017 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta events.