A College Friendly Guide to the Balloon Fiesta


By Hilary Broman

Senior Staff Reporter


As we approach the halfway point of the fall term here at CNM, Albuquerque is approaching Balloon Fiesta season.

With the 46th annual Balloon Fiesta right around the corner students might be encountering extra stress.

While it is an exciting time it can be difficult to balance school, work, and family while trying to plan a trip to this year’s Balloon Fiesta.

To help ease the stress CNM Chronicle’s senior staff reporter, Hilary Broman, has put together an easy to read, stress free list of details about this year’s fiesta.

Find a headline that interests you and get all the details you need there.

The theme this year is Inflate your Imagination.

So, grab your favorite hoodie, a delicious cup of coffee, and Inflate your Imagination.


If you’re a Star Wars Fan:

Help welcome back the popular Darth Vader and Yoda balloons at this free, kid friendly event.

“Visitors will be able to encounter Darth and Yoda up close and they will also be able to meet the pilots and crew members,” according to the event Facebook page.

When: Friday, October 6th at 8:30am-11:00om

Where: Balloon Fiesta Museum

For more information, click here.


If you have kids:

The entire balloon fiesta is kid friendly but, Thursday, October 12th is Kid Day, presented by KOB-TV.

The morning will start off with a laser light show at 5:45 am.

Followed by dawn patrol at 6:00am and then a Special Shape rodeo at 7:00 am.

In the evening a Special Shape Glowdeo is scheduled at 6:00pm, followed by a laser light show at 7:45pm, then a firework show at 8:00pm.

*Kids 12 and under are free every day of the fiesta.


If you love the special shapes:

The special shape balloons are included in all of the mass ascension events, but if you are particularly fond of the special shape balloons try attending the Special Shape Rodeo and Glowdeo.

The Special Shape Rodeo is scheduled to take place on Thursday, October 12th and Friday, October 13th.

During this event, only the special shape balloons take the field and take flight.

On the evening of the 12th and 13th there will be a Special Shape Glowdeo where the special shape balloons take the field but do not take flight. Instead, they ignite the gas which creates a glowing effect across the field.

In addition to all of the old favorites, 17 new shapes will be joining the special shapes family.

Below are the new special shape balloons:


Balloon 1


Click here to see a directory of all the special shape balloons participating in this year’s event.


If you want to conquer your fear of heights:

If you want to catch a ride on a balloon, contact Rainbow Ryders Inc at:

Toll free: 1-800-725-2477

Phone: 505-823-1111

Email: flightinfo@rainbowryders.com

For more information, click here.


If you’re not a morning person:

If the 4:00am morning rush and the morning cold isn’t worth it to you, don’t worry. There are plenty of mid-day and evening events.

On Saturday, October 14th, a music fiesta is scheduled to take place from 1:00pm-5:00pm.

Artists include; The Bus Tapes, Phil Vassar, and Billy Currington.

Admission to the music fiesta is not included in the general admission price.

Click here for ticket information.

There is also an AIBF Chainsaw Carving Invitational that is scheduled to take place on many days throughout the fiesta.

Click here to see when these events are scheduled.

There are many evening events scheduled throughout the fiesta including, laser light shows, balloon glows, and firework shows.

Click here to see when these events are scheduled.


If you’re a photographer:

The Balloon Fiesta is one of the most photographed events in the world, according to Balloon Fiesta officials.

Each year a photo contest is held for the best photos taken throughout the fiesta.

This year there are 5 categories;

  • Kids at Balloon Fiesta Photo Entry
  • Dawn Patrol/Balloon Glow Photo Entry
  • Mass Ascension Photo Entry
  • Special Shape Rodeo Photo Entry
  • AfterGlow Fireworks Photo Entry

There will be a grand prize winner and a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winner in each category.

Each submission costs $5.

To enter the contest or find out more, click here.



Don’t let parking stress you out. There are many options for drivers.


Park and Ride: There are many park and ride locations where you can pay for parking transportation, and admission into the balloon fiesta park all in one.

The park and ride locations include;

  • Cottonwood Mall
  • Intel
  • Coronado Center
  • Hoffmantown Church
  • Cliff’s Amusement Park

Click here for pricing information and to purchase tickets.


Parking on location:

If you decide to park on location make sure to leave extra early.

No matter what part of town you are coming from expect to be in traffic for an hour or more.

Be prepared to pay $15 cash per car.


Bike parking:

Beat the traffic when you ride your bike!

“Bike Valet is provided as a free service to promote bicycling to the Balloon Fiesta,” according to the balloon fiesta website.

Bike valet hours of operation:

  • Morning Sessions 5:30AM to 10:30AM
  • Evening Sessions 5:00PM to 9:00PM

For more information about the bike valet service click here.


If you’ve never been:

If you are from out of state or never had the chance to attend the event her are some tips that will make your first Balloon Fiesta experience enjoyable.

  • Dress warm, and in layers.
    • The morning is usually very cold but it gets warmer as the sun comes up. You may want to peel some of those layers.
  • Bring a blanket.
    • The event takes place on a grass lot. Blankets come in handy when you want to relax. You can stretch out and enjoy the fiesta from almost anywhere in the field.
  • Be prepared for a crowd.
    • The first balloon fiesta experience can be a bit overwhelming. If you are someone who doesn’t like crowds be prepared for a loud and chaotic space.
  • Use the restroom before you leave home
    • There are Porta-Potties are the balloon fiesta park but the line is always very long.
  • Buy all of your tickets in advance.
    • The more prepared you are they less hectic the experience will be. Buying admission tickets, park and ride tickets, and parking tickets in advance can help reduce stress.
  • Take a camera
    • The balloon fiesta is the most photographed event in the world. You’ll want to capture it.
  • Enjoy it
    • The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is the largest in the world. There is nothing else like it, so take in as much as you can and enjoy it!

*All events are weather permitting


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All photos by Hilary Broman. 


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