Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta 2016

Today, Saturday Oct 7, is the start of the 2017 International Balloon Fiesta here in Albuquerque.  It was a beautiful morning and gorgeous mass ascension.  For those of you who can’t make it here, let’s take a look back at last year’s event.

Pictures from the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta 2016 |

[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.”

Pictures from the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta 2016 |

Inflating a balloon before dawn. [Photo courtesy of Alex Kiska]


Dawn patrol at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta 2016 |

Lift-off of Dawn Patrol [Photo courtesy of Alex Kiska]


And so the day begins…

Sunrise at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta 2016 |

Sunrise over the Sandia mountains.  Balloons starting to inflate. [Photo courtesy of Alex Kiska]

Balloons inflating and lifting off at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta |

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]

Pictures from the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta 2016 |

[Photo courtesy of Alex Kiska]

Pictures from the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta 2016 |

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]


Pictures from the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta 2016 |

Balloons flying overhead  [Photo courtesy of Alex Kiska]


Smokey Bear at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta 2016 @mjskitchen

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]


Pictures from the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta 2016 |

The New Mexico Balloon and others. [Photo courtesy of Alex Kiska]

Special events at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

Throughout the week there are several special events.  The most attended and certainly the most dynamic events are the balloon glows. [Balloon glow photos courtesy of Alex Kiska]

Laser light show at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

Pictures of the balloon glow from the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta 2016 |

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]

Flying over the Rio Grande at the ABQ International Balloon Fiesta 2016

Shot from a hot air balloon, looking northeast back toward the balloon field and the Sandia mountains.  The Rio Grande runs through this shot.


Hot air ballong in the Splash & Dash at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta @mjskitchen

Balloon over the Rio Grande

Hot air balloon in the Splash and Dash at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta @mjskitchen

Balloon descending toward the river for its splash and dash.


Looking inside an inflated balloon |

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.

Gas balloons inflating for participation in the Gordon Bennett America's Cup |

[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.

Pictures from the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta 2016 @mjskitchen |

Pictures from the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta 2016 |


Below is a 2:42 minute time lapse of the 2013 fiesta by  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!  Here are some links that will help you plan your trip.

Your Guide to the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta 2017 @ All the Rooms

Albuquerque Fiesta Pro Tips @ All the Rooms


For more on the enchantment of New Mexico in autumn, visit this post:  Fall in the Rio Grande Valley.


31 Responses to “Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta 2016”

  1. Amy (Savory Moments) October 11, 2017 at 1:48 pm #

    These photos are really spectacular! What a fun event!

    • mj October 11, 2017 at 8:05 pm #

      Thanks Amy!

  2. ChgoJohn October 18, 2016 at 5:58 pm #

    What a fantastic event, MJ! I marvel at the photos every October and tell myself that I must make it out there one year. It’s one of those things that aren’t to be missed, IMO.

    • mj October 18, 2016 at 9:19 pm #

      Yes, you really need to experience at least once in a lifetime. There’s nothing like it. We went out to the field for years, then it just go so big and was easier for us to watch from the sidelines. 🙂

  3. Debra Eliotseats October 15, 2016 at 8:13 am #

    We have a very minor festival here but it can’t hold a candle to this mother-of-all-balloon festivals! I would love to visit there one day. I can’t believe how many are in the sky at once. I had heard that the whole event was cancelled because of weather. I guess it was just the few days I was hearing about. Thank you so much for sharing!

  4. Kelly @ Inspired Edibles October 14, 2016 at 10:53 am #

    Beautiful! The colours, the variety, the moody evening sky. I love this lifestyle post and continue to marvel at the many incredible festivals that surround us and the opportunities that await. I was just having this conversation the other morning with my hubby over coffee about how much I want to do and always feel like there isn’t quite enough time to do it :d. Amazing time lapse!! (and groovy tune too… it’s still playing on my pc and keeping me company). Have a great weekend MJ.

    • mj October 14, 2016 at 4:47 pm #

      So glad you enjoyed it Kelly! Yes, that is an amazing time lapse. I’ve watched it many times. 🙂 Now that Bobby and I both are within a year from full retirement, we’re starting to get serious about taking advantage of the many opportunities that await us. Starting to make that bucket list. 🙂

  5. Evelyne CulturEatz October 12, 2016 at 12:08 pm #

    What a fabulous post. We have such a festival about 1 hour outside the city but I am ashamed to say I have never gone, not sure it is as big as this one. And wow on all the pics, such gorgeous shots. Love the Splash & Dash idea lol. Thanks for you and your freidns for sharing!

    • mj October 14, 2016 at 4:44 pm #

      Thanks Evelyne! You should go to your festival some day. You’d be surprised how relaxing it is to watch hot air balloons inflate, lift-off and float across the sky.

  6. Liz October 11, 2016 at 7:57 pm #

    Wow! Your friends got some gorgeous shots of the festival!!! The vibrant colors against the blue sky is stunning!!!

    • mj October 14, 2016 at 4:42 pm #

      They did get some great shots! Thanks Liz!

  7. Bam's Kitchen October 11, 2016 at 12:18 pm #

    Stunning photos! Special thanks to Alex and Myra! I have always wanted to take a hot air balloon ride…maybe one day.

    • mj October 14, 2016 at 4:42 pm #

      Thanks Bobbi!

  8. Virginia Graves October 10, 2016 at 4:07 pm #

    Thank you for sharing the pics. I would like to go see them sometime. I have family there. I am a Chavez and I know there are a lot of them living in NM I always look forward to receiving your recipes.Gin

    • mj October 10, 2016 at 7:46 pm #

      Thanks so much Virginia! I really appreciate your comments and am thrilled that you are enjoying my recipes! Hopefully you can make it over for a visit with you family during a fiesta. It’s really fun!

  9. Deb|EastofEdenCooking October 10, 2016 at 10:50 am #

    We used to travel to New Mexico every year, and I miss my time in the sunshine state! A wonderful capture of the spirit of the state!

    • mj October 10, 2016 at 7:44 pm #

      Thanks Deb! It definitely is the sunshine state, even though we had to cancel the balloon flights one morning because of wind and rain. 🙂

  10. Ala October 10, 2016 at 9:43 am #

    This. Is. AMAZING! I can’t believe you got to capture such amazing photos and am absolutely in awe of this event’s beauty. Lucky you!!

    • mj October 10, 2016 at 7:43 pm #

      Thanks so much Ala! And thanks to my friends for sharing their lovely pictures.

  11. Sissi October 10, 2016 at 7:33 am #

    What a wonderful festival! It’s so colourful and joyful… no wonder many people come to see it. I’ve been dreaming about a short trip in a hot air balloon for quite a long time… Have you also tried it? (I understood these are your friends’ photos).
    Now thanks to you I add another argument to a possible future visit to New Mexico (until now you and food were the only reasons).

    • mj October 10, 2016 at 7:42 pm #

      Thanks Sissi! Have I been in a balloon? NO!!! I have an extreme fear of heights especially the type in a hot air balloons. I need something underneath me. Bobby has been up many times and loves it. I’m fine with my feet on the ground. I’m going to get you over here sooner or later. 🙂

  12. Raymund October 10, 2016 at 12:45 am #

    Photos are so nice! I wanted to go in one of this, there was one here in New Zealand but never been there. I think I will go there next time and hopefully ride one

    • mj October 10, 2016 at 7:40 pm #

      Thanks Raymund! If you get a chance to go up in a balloon, you really should. My husband has been up many times, but with my extreme fear of heights, I haven’t even considered it. 🙂

  13. Abbe@This is How I Cook October 9, 2016 at 8:49 pm #

    I actually took a hot air balloon class in college way back when. It was great fun and I’ve always wanted to go to this! My kids have gone with their grandparents, but we weren’t invited! Great photos!

    • mj October 10, 2016 at 7:39 pm #

      I’ve never heard of a college hot air balloon class. I bet that was fun. Oh those grandparents!!! Spoiling the grandkids and forgetting about the kids. 🙂 Thanks Abbe!

  14. John/Kitchen Riffs October 9, 2016 at 4:52 pm #

    What neat pictures! Thanks to Alex and Myra for allowing you to share them. Sounds like a fun event — I’ll have to try to attend it one of these years! 🙂

    • mj October 10, 2016 at 7:37 pm #

      Back in the day when I use to go out to the balloon field, it was just a big party. Still lots of partying, family fun, friends fun and fun with strangers going on. Hope you get to make it out some day. Thanks!

  15. Jan Cook October 9, 2016 at 12:28 pm #

    The balloon fiesta is one of the things I miss most about Albuquerque and New Mexico. Thanks MJ for posting so many beautiful photos for those of us who can’t be there but love and miss New Mexico.

    • mj October 10, 2016 at 7:36 pm #

      You are most welcome Jan! Hope you get back here to be able to enjoy it again. Thanks!

  16. Angie@Angie's Recipes October 9, 2016 at 12:05 pm #

    I have never in my life seen so many balloons…so beautiful under the blue sky.

    • mj October 9, 2016 at 12:27 pm #

      It’s pretty breathtaking! I’m just sad that today is the last day. 🙁

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