I had been dreaming of going to the Balloon Fiesta for YEARS and this year just happened to work out because it opened on a weekend that I had a holiday and was available. I have put together a quick guide for those wishing to visit or that are just curious about the Fiesta, but I do hope you visit as it is simply magical.
Apologies upfront, I took over 1,100+ photos and had a hard time deciding what I would share with you – so I picked a bunch of photos and I hope you love them all.
Know Before You Go:
- The Fiesta lasts just over a week, about 9 days. The weekend activities are not entirely the same as the activities during the week – so check the schedule.
- Plan accordingly – it IS cold in the morning.
- Stay at a hotel that has a shuttle – it is so much easier than waiting in line to park and walking forever to get to the entrance.
- The Fiesta IS ADA compliant.
- Bags will be searched upon entry – but you can bring in food and drinks.
- DO bring a lawn chair of some sort and/or a blanket for the grass – the Fiesta does not set up large scale seating. You will see people lounging all over the grass in chairs or on blankets.
I flew into Albuquerque, New Mexico for the Fiesta because it is the closest. The airport is pretty small and getting in and out was a breeze. When I left, I think from the time I dropped off the car until I got to my gate was maybe 20 minutes. The airport was not busy when I arrived or left. It was also easy to navigate and to get a car.
Where To Stay:
During my stay I checked into a Junior Suite which was on the first floor and offered two patios with sunrise and epic landscape views. The room was equipped with a king size bed, 2 TV’s, 2 full bathrooms, a separate living area, 2 work stations, and 2 coffee bars & mini fridges. The room and hotel store both serve up Starbucks coffee – so if you are looking for great coffee – you are in the right place.
The hotel itself is gorgeous and every bit of luxury as I would have thought it to be. The details of the area are the real stars of the show. You will find pottery, blankets, and small details throughout that I thought really brought the hotel to life.
The food was amazing. I am a sucker for breakfast in bed. The blue corn piñon griddle cakes came highly recommended and were so good! I absolutely recommend ordering them if you visit.
Tip – the hotel DOES offer a shuttle to the Balloon Fiesta. It costs $40 round-trip per person. $50 if you do not already have an entry ticket to the Fiesta. I LOVED that we went through a special shuttle/bus line to get in and out of the park AND did not have to wait or park far away. The shuttle picked up and dropped off right at the entrance.
- Address: 1300 Tuyuna Trail, Santa Ana Pueblo, New Mexico, USA, 87004
- Phone: 1 505 867 1234
- Distance from Albuquerque Airport: about 26-30 minutes (mostly highway)
- Parking: Self park and valet both available
- Pet friendly
- 24 hour gym
- Complimentary WiFi
- 5 restaurants on property
The Balloon Fiesta:
I went during the weekend which offers slightly different options as going during the week some of the days BUT you will see balloons launch during the morning hours no matter what day you go. On some of the days (weekends mostly) there are 2 sessions: a morning and an evening session. I recommend going to both at least once to get a different perspective of the balloons.
My first night in town I went to the opening evening session. There are a lot of people there and the lines will be long for concessions, so plan accordingly. During the evening session I went to see the Twinkle Twinkle Glow – which is when the balloons fire up in the field but do not go into the air. You can walk among the balloons and take pictures and get as close as you want really. Once it gets dark out you will see the balloons all in unison fire up many times in a row and the crowd just loves it. They twinkle at the same time.
There was also a band playing at the main stage – but I did not stay for this as I was tired from traveling all day, but it was available to those who visit.
Getting out was pretty easy. I walked right through the entrance and my hotel shuttle was waiting. Time back to my hotel was about 15 or so minutes and I was in bed by 10:00pm.
The next morning I got up at 4:00am to make my 5:00am shuttle to the Fiesta – which took about 15 minutes to get to. It was cold and I was not entirely prepared – but luckily there were vendors selling local blankets and I toasted right up! Krispy Kreme was on site selling hot beverages and donuts, so I grabbed both while I waited for the balloon launch.
During the 1.5 hour wait between the shuttle arriving and the Mass Ascension, I was able to see the sunrise, the Dawn Patrol Show, Laser Light Show, and the Krispy Kreme Morning Glow. There was always something going on to keep you entertained while waiting for the balloon launch.
The big show is the balloon launch at 7:00am, which is called Mass Ascension. When I left at 9:00am for my shuttle, some balloons were still going up. It does take awhile for all the balloons to get into the air and they do not all go up at once – but it is quite magnificent being able to watch them launch. So many of them inflated right in front of me and took off into the air.
I cannot possibly put into words how magical and fun it was to see all the balloons. They are all so different from size, color, and shapes and to see them gliding through the air is really spectacular.
TIP: There are plenty of places to get food, beverages and souvenirs. The lines can be a bit long and it is pretty standard fair food with some local flair. I ate a corn dog while I was there at night and hot cocoa and donut the next morning. You can find things like Navajo tacos, breakfast burritos, ice cream, food on a stick, donuts, funnel cakes, and so much more.
- Address: 5000 Balloon Fiesta Pkwy NE, Albuquerque, NM 87113
- Admission: $10 for 12 years & up, under 12 free
- General Parking $15 per car
- Bathrooms are available – Porta Johns
- There is not seating provided – you will find a stray bench or picnic table here or there but if you plan to sit, bring a blanket for the grass or a lawn chair.
- Photos and videos are encouraged so bring all your equipment
- 2017 Schedule –>here