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Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

#2 in Best Things To Do in Albuquerque

Albuquerque International Balloon Festival picture in Albuquerque
Mass Ascension picture in Albuquerque
Balloons picture in Albuquerque
Balloon Festival picture in Albuquerque
Albuquerque International Balloon Festival picture in Albuquerque
Mass Ascension picture in Albuquerque
Balloons picture in Albuquerque
Balloon Festival picture in Albuquerque

Key Info

Price & Hours

  • $10 for adults; free for kids 12 and younger
  • October

Details

  • Festivals Type
  • More than Full Day Time to Spend
4.6
Overall
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Scorecard

  • Value
    4.5
  • Facilities
    4.5
  • Atmosphere
    5.0

Read about how we rank Things to Do.

The city's dry climate is ideal for hot air ballooning, and so during the first week of October every year, thousands flock to Albuquerque to experience the International Balloon Fiesta. For a full week, the sky fills with almost 600 brightly colored balloons, which launch every morning from the 78-acre Balloon Fiesta Park in northern Albuquerque. Festival attendees witness the mass launch just before sunrise and the "Balloon Glows," during which the balloons are illuminated against the night sky.

Many recent visitors struggled to find the words to describe the magnificent sight of the balloons, calling the festival a bucket list experience. They also offer some essential tips for making the most of the festival. To start, travelers suggest taking advantage of the park and ride option (it costs $15 per adult when booked in advance and includes admission to the park) to avoid the heavy traffic that usually surrounds this event. Visitors also advise getting there as early as you can (some got on the road or boarded their shuttle bus by 4:45 a.m.) to witness the early morning activities, such as the Dawn Patrol. Just remember to wear layers – travelers warn it's chilly in the morning and gets progressively warmer as the day goes on. If you're willing to spend a bit more money, reviewers also recommend purchasing the Chasers' Club ticket option. For $45 per person, you'll receive admission to the festival, guaranteed seating in a private patio situated on the north end of Balloon Fiesta Park (a prime photo op location), beverages and a hot food item.

General admission for the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta costs $10 per person; children 12 and younger can enter for free. The festival also offers a bundle of five general admission tickets for $45. Keep in mind, your ticket only grants you access to one session, meaning you'll be able to enjoy all the activities taking place in the morning and all of the activities scheduled for the evening. You can purchase tickets online. Parking costs $15 for each session; avoid the traffic congestion by taking advantage of the festival's organized park and ride option. The park opens at 4:30 a.m. for morning activities and again at 3:30 pm for the evening activities and is open until approximately 9 p.m. For more information, visit the festival website.

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#1 Old Town For more than 300 years, both Native American and Spanish cultures have been shaping this neighborhood (this is the site of the original city settlement in 1706). Anchored by the ... Read more » www.itsatrip.org / Albuquerque Convention & Visitors Bureau

#2 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta The city's dry climate is ideal for hot air ballooning, and so during the first week of October every year, thousands flock to Albuquerque to experience the International Balloon ... Read more » Ron Behrmann / Albuquerque Convention & Visitors Bureau

#3 ABQ BioPark Sitting along the Rio Grande River just southeast of Old Town, the ABQ BioPark is the ideal venue for a relaxing day spent outdoors and a must-see, according to recent ... Read more » Raymond Watt / Visit Albuquerque

#4 San Felipe de Neri Church Sitting on the north edge of Old Town's plaza, the San Felipe de Neri Church, originally founded in 1706, was the first Roman Catholic Church erected in Albuquerque. The ... Read more » traveler1116 / Getty Images

#5 Indian Pueblo Cultural Center Long before the Spanish conquistadors made their way to New Mexico, the region was home to numerous tribes of Pueblo people. Today, the cultures of these indigenous tribes are preserved ... Read more » www.visitalbuquerque.org

#6 The Albuquerque Museum For an in-depth look at Albuquerque's rich cultural heritage, take a few hours to explore the Albuquerque Museum. Sitting on the eastern edge of Old Town, this spaceis home ... Read more » www.visitalbuquerque.org

#7 Sandia Peak Tramway For excellent views of Albuquerque and the nearby Sandia Mountains, take a ride on the Sandia Peak Tramway. Cable cars carry passengers nearly 3 miles along a suspended cable between ... Read more » sherwoodimagery / Getty Images

#8 New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science Neighboring the Albuquerque Museum on the outskirts of Old Town, this museum educates visitors on 12 billion years of natural history. Highlights include the display on the Jurassic era that ... Read more » MarbleStreetStudio.com / Albuquerque Convention & Visitors Bureau

#9 Petroglyph National Monument If you're interested in (very) early American history, take a trip to the west side of the Rio Grande River where you'll find Petroglyph National Monument. This 7 ... Read more » Verna Wood / Albuquerque Convention & Visitors Bureau

#10 Paseo del Bosque Trail This 16-mile-long walking and biking path traces the Rio Grande River through central Albuquerque, passing major sites like Old Town and the ABQ BioPark. It also features public art and ... Read more » www.visitalbuquerque.org

# The Turquoise Museum Open since 1993, The Turquoise Museum is a fantastic place to go and learn all about the history of mining and crafting turquoise. The museum has a lot of information ... Read more » Carolyn / Flickr

# Hot Air Balloon Tour Read more » Karol Franks / Getty Images

# Casa Rondena Winery Read more » ivanastar / Getty Images

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Historic Old Town picture in Albuquerque
Albuquerque International Balloon Festival picture in Albuquerque
ABQ BioPark picture in Albuquerque
Church with Luminarias picture in Albuquerque
Indian Pueblo Cultural Center picture in Albuquerque
Albuquerque Museum picture in Albuquerque
Sandia Peak Tramway picture in Albuquerque
New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science picture in Albuquerque
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Paseo del Bosque Trail picture in Albuquerque
Turquoise Museum picture in Albuquerque
Rainbow Ryders picture in Albuquerque
Winery picture in Albuquerque
KiMo Theatre picture in Albuquerque
Historic Old Town picture in Albuquerque
Albuquerque International Balloon Festival picture in Albuquerque
ABQ BioPark picture in Albuquerque
Church with Luminarias picture in Albuquerque
Indian Pueblo Cultural Center picture in Albuquerque
Albuquerque Museum picture in Albuquerque
Sandia Peak Tramway picture in Albuquerque
New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science picture in Albuquerque
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Paseo del Bosque Trail picture in Albuquerque
Turquoise Museum picture in Albuquerque
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Old Town is the site of the original Albuquerque settlement, which was founded in 1706. www.itsatrip.org / Albuquerque Convention & Visitors Bureau

During the International Balloon Fiesta – held the first week in October – Albuquerque's blue skies are filled with hundreds of hot air balloons. Ron Behrmann / Albuquerque Convention & Visitors Bureau

The ABQ BioPark is a great way to spend an afternoon exploring the flora and fauna of Albuquerque. Raymond Watt / Visit Albuquerque

The San Felipe de Neri Church was first constructed in 1793. traveler1116 / Getty Images

In addition to the center's temporary exhibits, it also offers a permanent space featuring original artwork and craftsmanship of each of the 19 Pueblos of New Mexico.  www.visitalbuquerque.org

For an in-depth look at Albuquerque's rich cultural heritage, take a few hours to explore the Albuquerque Museum. www.visitalbuquerque.org

The Sandia Peak Tramway carries passengers from eastern Albuquerque to the summit of Sandia Peak. sherwoodimagery / Getty Images

Visitors to the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science are greeted by two life-size New Mexico dinosaurs created by Albuquerque sculptor Dave Thomas. Alberta (seen here) is a carnivorous Albertosaurus. MarbleStreetStudio.com / Albuquerque Convention & Visitors Bureau

Petroglyph National Monument showcases the world's largest accessible collection of ancient rock art. Verna Wood / Albuquerque Convention & Visitors Bureau

www.visitalbuquerque.org

The family-run Turquoise Museum is an informative place to stop to learn all about the mining and history of turquoise. Carolyn / Flickr

A great way to see Albuquerque is from way up high. Take to the skies in a hot air balloon ride (choose from sunrise, sunset or somewhere in between) for an unforgettable view. Karol Franks / Getty Images

Albuquerque is known for its wines, so making a stop at the tasting room at Casa Rondena Winery is worth the trek. ivanastar / Getty Images

Culture and music lovers will want to catch a show at the KiMo Theatre, which puts on several performances per week. Check the calendar in advance to book your tickets. View Pictures / Contributor / Getty Images

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