Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta#3 in Best Things To Do in Albuquerque
Price & Hours
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 Albuquerque
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 central plaza, Old Town's cobblestone streets are filled with brightly colored adobe huts that now house galleries, restaurants and souvenir shops. The stunning San Felipe de Neri Church – Albuquerque's oldest building – can also be found here.
Many visitors recommend spending a few hours wandering around Old Town, likening it to a less crowded (and more affordable) Santa Fe. Along with the interesting shops and restaurants, reviewers also loved the area's clean streets and talented street performers. However, if you're heading to Old Town in search of Southwestern souvenirs, recent shoppers advised watching out for knockoffs.
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