[Photo courtesy of Myra Gadson]
The 2016 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is over and it was a great fiesta! We did have a couple of cancellation days due to wind or rain, but there were still lots of flying time, events, and fun by all. The balloon fiesta always starts the first weekend of October and runs through the second weekend. The energy in the city during fiesta week is exhilarating. Morning skies are filled with peacefully floating colorful balloons and on a few of the evenings, the sky fills with fireworks and the balloon field becomes aglow with hundreds of inflated glowing hot air balloons. After the events of the day are complete, spectators move out to local restaurants or take drives to other parts of our enchanting state.
For those of you who haven’t been able to experience this fiesta or weren’t able to make it this year, following are some pictures that should provide you with a little insight into why New Mexicans and thousands of others from around the world love this fiesta!
This year two of my friends – Alex and Myra – posted beautiful pictures of the balloon fiesta and gave me permission to share their pictures with you. Alex was out at the balloon park before sunrise on a few days and took some amazing early morning pictures. Lucky Myra got to take a hot air balloon ride during the splash & dash, so she was able to take pictures that range from the balloon park to the air and everything below.
Hope you enjoy these pictures and add the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta to your bucket list.
Dawn Patrol at the Balloon Fiesta
Every morning “Dawn Patrol pilots take off in the dark and fly until it is light enough to see landing sites. Fellow balloonists appreciate the Dawn Patrol because they can watch the balloons and get an early idea of wind speeds and directions at different altitudes.”
Inflating a balloon before dawn. [Photo courtesy of Alex Kiska]
Lift-off of Dawn Patrol [Photo courtesy of Alex Kiska]
And so the day begins…
Sunrise over the Sandia mountains. Balloons starting to inflate. [Photo courtesy of Alex Kiska]
Balloon Fiesta park fills with thousands of spectators wandering around as over 500 balloons inflate and lift-off. What an exhilarating experience! [Photo courtesy of Alex Kiska]
[Photo courtesy of Alex Kiska]
Hot air balloons fill the sky as they lift-off. Can you pick out the space man and the frog? [Photo courtesy of Myra Gadson]
Balloons flying overhead [Photo courtesy of Alex Kiska]
Special shapes have become very popular. Here is the Smokey Bear balloon. If you look carefully at many of the other pictures, you may see several other special shapes. [Photo courtesy of Myra Gadson]
The New Mexico Balloon and others. [Photo courtesy of Alex Kiska]
Special events at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta
Balloon Glow after sunset – The balloon glows start with a laser light show and fireworks, followed by the burners firing up into inflated but tethered hot air balloons, creating a “magical glowing candy-colored canopy”. In addition to balloon glows with the traditional balloons, there are also two balloon glows with the many special shapes that participate in this fiesta.
Splash & Dash is an event where the pilots touch the bottom of their baskets down into the Rio Grande, then rise up and fly off. Click here to watch a YouTube video by KOAT of a splash and dash. I the video, the actual “splash” starts near the 2:00 mark.
Myra caught a ride in a balloon during the splash & dash and took some great shots. [All aerial pictures courtesy of Myra Gadson]
Shot from a hot air balloon, looking northeast back toward the balloon field and the Sandia mountains. The Rio Grande runs through this shot.
Balloon over the Rio Grande
Balloon descending toward the river for its splash and dash.
Looking up into the balloon as it fires off its burners to heat the air.
Gorden Bennett American Cup
On Thursday night around midnight, 5 gas balloons launched from Balloon Fiesta Park competing in the Gordon Bennett America’s Cup. Pilots were from Poland, France and America. The winner is the team that flies the furthest distance from the launch site.
[Photo courtesy of Alex Kiska]
A City Wide Event – Because wind direction changes almost every day, the flight paths of the balloons are rather unpredictable from day to day. Sometimes they travel east toward the mountains, west over the river, south over the length of the city, and then when the Albuquerque box is working, the balloons can stay over the field for hours, changing direction with just a little change in altitude. On Tuesday, the balloons headed south and a few of them flew through my neighborhood. I was able to grab a couple of shots as they floated through.
Below is a 2:42 minute time lapse of the 2013 fiesta by Roadtrippers.com. It’s pretty amazing!
I’d like to again thank Alex and Myra for sharing these wonderful photos with me so that I could share them with you!
Hope you see you all next year at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta!
For more on the enchantment of New Mexico in autumn, visit this post: Fall in the Rio Grande Valley.