Up & Away at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta (Part 3)

Up & Away at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta (Part 3)

600 500 Kristi Corder

Every year, Albuquerque, NM hosts the biggest and best hot air balloon event in the world. There are hundreds of balloons, tons of food, lots of tourists, vendors, and even campgrounds. People come from all over the world to take part in this festival. If you love to travel, the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is an event you don’t want to miss!

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In part 1 of our series, I talked a bit about the time leading up to the balloon fiesta, our check-in day, and our mornings watching balloons fly overhead. In part 2 of our series, I shared a bit about the Fulltime Families rally itself and introduced you to some of our new friends. In this post, I want to introduce you to the awesomeness that is the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.

Calling all travel families! The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is an event you don't want to miss! #TravelWithKids #Balloon Fiesta #TravelNewMexico #Albuquerque #WayBeyondTheNorm

Balloon Fiesta Basics

The balloon fiesta is held every year in October. It usually starts on a Saturday, runs a full week, and ends on a Sunday. Weather permitting, balloon launches are scheduled every morning throughout the week and also in the evenings on the weekends.

If you want to head to the balloon field for morning launches, you need to be sure to arrive early.  Launches typically begin at 7 AM. We woke up at 5:30 AM on the mornings that we went to the field. You may need to get up earlier if you are driving to the event.

The balloon fiesta was so pretty, but I did not like all of the walking. My favorite part was the Special Shapes Glowdeo where they all lit up their balloons in the dark.


On the Field

Once you are on the field, the magic begins. What is a dark or dimly lit sky turns into a canopy of balloons blowing up in the space above you. Everywhere you turn you see another balloon and a sea of people waiting for it to take off.

I like to compare the on field experience to Walt Disney World: massive crowds where everyone is going one way, then the next, and back again with no real plan of action. At least that’s how our experience was.

I liked all of the different balloons and their different shapes, sizes, and colors. It was really cool to see them light up their balloons when it was dark outside. They would countdown and then you’d see all of the balloons start to glow.


When you have kids, they each end up having their favorite balloons. This means you have to watch one get assembled and fly away, then make your way to the next one that may be all the way across the field. Then you watch that one take off and you make your way back to the other side of the field again for another one. Plus each balloon has trading cards that the crews give out to anyone that wants them, so the kids decide they want to dart all around the field to get new cards they hadn’t gotten previously.

The whole experience only lasts about 2-3 hours. There are other things to do at the balloon field if you want to stay longer. They have lots of different vendor booths, tons of food, kids play areas, and some days they even have balloon competitions. Our kids were worn out within the first hour and a half, so we headed back to the camper after all of the balloons lifted off.

One thing that was extra special was that Peyton got to celebrate his birthday while there. It was only fitting that he found his favorite balloon during the Special Shapes Glowdeo:

Peyton and Spiderpig at the balloon fiesta

Next Year

We’ve already reserved our RV site for next year. Obviously, the kids are wanting to go back. We’ve also decided that next year we’re going to volunteer to crew a balloon. As part of the Fulltime Families group, they arrange for families to help crew with a certain number of balloon pilots. This year a few of the families even got the opportunity to ride in the balloon they crewed.  How fun!!!

This is definitely a family-friendly event that you want to make plans to attend. If you are an RVer with kids, we highly recommend joining the Fulltime Families group and attending the rally in Albuquerque during the balloon fiesta. It just makes the event even more amazing for the kids.

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Have you been to the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta? Reply in the comments below and let us know about your experience, or if you haven’t gone, let us know if it’s something you think you’d like to do.
  • We went to the Balloon Fiesta a few years ago. We drove to the festival site, and got there early, fully expecting to have to sit in traffic for an hour, but after maybe 10 minutes of sitting in line, we were in a parking spot. I could NOT believe how organized Albuquerque was with getting cars into spots and out of the way before everything started!

    Absolutely loved this and hope to make it back some day!

    • Kelly,

      That’s awesome! The balloon fiesta does have most things down to a science now. Unfortunately, the RV parking lots still need a bit of organization as we found out last year. But the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is a must do for everyone. So much fun!

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