Results 1-10of 11 Reviews
July 5, 2012
From journal Flying High at the International Hot Air Balloon Festival
Grass Valley, California
December 5, 2005
From journal Hot Air in Albuquerque
by wanderer 2005
February 9, 2005
You have to get up to the park pretty early because balloons start taking off at sunrise, after the balloonist's prayer, and continue until about 11am, when it gets too hot.
The Park is located off of Paso Del Norte Rd and I-25. The roads are blocked off around the area, with signs to get into the park. If you choose to park and ride, there are several locations around town that you can leave from on a shuttle, for a small fee. One of the highlights of the festival is the Balloon Glow, which usually happens on the second night after sunset. All the balloons get together at the launch site and fire up their burners, making the ground glow - it's really something to see. Races and other events take place each day.
You don’t have to go the balloon park to be a part of the action. The balloons can be seen for miles and as the old saying goes, "what goes up, must come down" and balloons land all over town. Look for ones that are descending, and drive towards it. The balloon crews are more than happy to have people help.
Now to actually ride in a balloon can sometimes be a feat in itself. I was part of a balloon crew, so I occasionally got to take a ride. Other than being part of a crew or having friends that own a balloon, the only way to get off the ground is to pay for a ride. There are companies all over town that charge for rides. I believe the prices are upwards of a hundred dollars or more. I suggest making arrangements way ahead of time. Once you get up in the balloon, it’s a very cool experience. Just floating above the ground can be scary for some, very relaxing for others. The last time I rode in one, we had a hard landing not far from the fiesta grounds. I have to admit, it was a little scary.
At the field, there are food booths all throughout the park as well as restrooms. Dress warm and in layers, as it is COLD in the morning and gets up to about 60°F later. Bring gloves and perhaps a beanie or scarf to warp around your ears. They WILL get cold. I recommend bringing your own tissues or TP as the port-a-potties run out fairly fast. There are hot chocolate and coffee stands all over to help keep you warm.
Book your hotel rooms EARLY as this is a major event in Albuquerque and rooms book up really fast. Try booking a few months in advance.
From journal Great Food in an Unlikely Place
West Virginia, West Virginia
October 13, 2004
Mass Ascensions are conducted from Albuquerque’s Balloon Fiesta Park, usually beginning around 7am, right after Dawn Patrol. Each ascension occurs in waves, with the general order of flight specified during morning pilot briefings. Zebras, the field officials who manage Mass Ascension, give each pilot final clearance to launch. When all is said and done, hundreds of balloons fill the sky; upwards of 750 during Fiesta 2004.
Because onlookers are allowed to wander the launch field, Mass Ascension is a full spectator sport conducted in three dimensions. Within a matter of minutes, a balloon envelope can move from being a horizontal line of fabric laying on the ground to being a fully inflated aerostat aircraft, ready to fly. Walking among the inflating balloons makes one feel a bit like an insect in a forest of mushrooms. The overall effect is a sensual assault, including a myriad of colors, forms, and changing shapes.
Given the unusual level of access by spectators during inflation and ascension, it’s important to remember a few common-sense rules:
(1) Do not touch the fabric of the balloon envelope with your bare hands. You’ll notice that virtually all crew members wear gloves. Over time, the natural oils found in skin can damage a balloon’s envelope.
(2) No matter how tempting the photo op, do not come between the gondola and the throat of the balloon during inflation. Crew members are busy attaching rigging, and they are in general proceeding from the cold phase of inflation to the hot phase. Your intrusion into this space interferes with the rhythm of required safety checks. Moreover, an unfortunate convergence between a quick dash to take advantage of a world-class photo op and the first burn of the hot phase could ruin your whole day.
(3) As a matter of personal safety as well as courtesy, follow any instructions issued by crew members or field officials. Most balloonists are eager to share their passion, but their first concern is always for safety.
(4) Don’t smoke on the field. Propane is flammable.
In the end, the natural order of a Mass Ascension moves from wave to wave and down the aisles of the launch field, filling the sky above and the field itself with a chaos of vibrant and colorful forms — not to mention excitement. The senses of ordinary mortals simply cannot fully cope, and the photos brought home, no matter how wonderful, can’t begin to compare with the real thing.
From journal Fiesta! A Novice's Guide to Ballooning
February 21, 2004
From journal Hot Air Balloons
February 16, 2004
Now imagine glimpsing not one glorious balloon but hundreds--balloons of all colors and many shapes flown by balloonists from around the globe. Imagine ranks of hot air balloons rising above their launch sites like so many giant mushrooms after a spring rain. Imagine walking in the shadow of dozens of balloons standing upright and ready for flight. Imagine craning your neck and turning your head to watch wave upon wave of balloons float past. And imagine hundreds of tethered balloons glowing softly against a night sky.
Chances are, if your imagination does not fail against such a list of challenges, you’ve visited Albuquerque during the International Balloon Fiesta, a 9-day event that occurs annually during early October. The center of operations for this high drama above the New Mexican desert is Balloon Fiesta Park, located near I-25 along the northwestern fringes of Albuquerque. From launch sites located at the park, fiesta balloonists participate in such events as:
Dawn Patrol--conducted daily throughout the fiesta, starting about 5:45 A.M.
Mass Ascension--conducted daily throughout the fiesta, starting about 7:00 A.M.
The America's Challenge Gas Balloon Race--an annual competition in which two-person crews race gas balloons cross-country.
Competitive Flying Events--in which hot air balloon pilots compete for cash and prizes.
Balloon Glows--conducted several evenings during the fiesta, featuring tethered balloons set aglow by bursts of flame from their propane burners.
The Flight of Nations--featuring balloons and pilots from abroad.
Special Shape Events--featuring an array of balloons assuming an ever-growing variety of unusual forms, from pigs, to champagne bottles and soft drink cans, to an oversized Jesus rising from a cloud.
Fireworks Shows--scheduled to follow each of the fiesta’s nighttime glows.
Admission to the 2002 Balloon Fiesta Park was only $5, and there was a parking fee.
For fiesta-goers wanting to do more than merely watch the pageantry around them, the best way to move from observer to participant, short of buying a balloon of your own, is to join a balloon chase crew.
© DAnneC/BawBaw, updated 2004 for IgoUgo
From journal Albuquerque - Cultural Crossroads of the Southwest
Raleigh, North Carolina
June 13, 2003
If you’re fortunate to visit during the Fiesta, you definitely should not miss it. The $5 single event admission to the park allows you an up close and personal look at all the hot air balloons. Visitors can walk amongst the balloons, chat with the balloon crews and even take a ride (for about $225 if you want to depart from within the park itself).
While the balloon accessions can be enjoyed from virtually any spot in the park, definitely plan on being at the park early. Activities begin as early as 6 AM, when the Dawn Patrol (the balloons sent up to test the patterns of the winds) departs. Initially, the mass accession may seem slow going as balloons begin to fill and trickle into the sky. But before long, there will be balloons popping up all around you, and you’ll find yourself not knowing where to look as different balloons catch your eye.
Within the park, there are several concession stands from which you can purchase food, souvenirs, even your own hot air balloon, if you so choose. These should not be passed by as the myriad of balloon paraphernalia is interesting in and of itself.
Unfortunately, the majesty of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta cannot be well put into words, and pictures just don’t seem to do it justice. If you have the opportunity to experience it, you’ll understand what I mean.
Additional Information: www.balloonfiesta.com
From journal A Spectacular Sight To See
Overland Park, Kansas
November 24, 2002
Everyone sees hot air balloons in the skies from time to time, but there is not experience like being right there as they are filled and launched except -
Staying after the launch on weekdays to watch them manuever across the launch field competing for prizes or -
Maybe being there in the evening when the balloons are filled and stood up but notlaunched. Instead the flame runs into the balloon and is altered slightly and they light up like giant light bulbs or -
Unless you actually go for a ride in one.
This year, 2002, Friday morning was the absolute best day that we've ever had at the fiesta. The winds were virtually non-existent so the balloons flew nowhere fast. Just hovered over the field. After the special shapes and commercial balloons were launched, the regular balloons, which had to launch somewhere other than the fiesta field, started coming in for the flying competitions. The famous Albuquerque "Box" was working to perfection and along with the slow wind speeds, the air over the competition field was filled with hundreds of balloons for over any hour. See picture.
From journal Hot Air Balloons in New Mexico
Corrales, New Mexico
September 15, 2001
From journal High Desert Destination