One of the joys of living at Mariposa in Rio Rancho, near Albuquerque is the annual sight of hundreds of colorful hot air balloons that fill the morning sky during the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta®. The largest event of its kind in the world, this year’s fiesta runs from Saturday, Oct. 5, through Sunday, Oct. 13.
The family-friendly event is truly awe inspiring and has a number of ways for any age to participate in the fiesta. From morning Mass Ascensions, evening Balloon Glows, to a wonderful program for local school children, here are 10 ways and locations to experience the magic of the annual fiesta.
1. Albuquerque Aloft
Albuquerque Aloft partners with local elementary schools to share the excitement of the Balloon Fiesta with children, their parents and teachers. Kids get to meet the pilots and crew and learn about the inner workings of a hot air balloon right from their school grounds. Albuquerque Aloft takes place the Friday morning before the start of the Balloon Fiesta where balloonists simultaneously launch from several participating elementary schools. Weather permitting, inflation is scheduled at approximately 6:45-7 a.m. with the launch at 7-7:30 a.m.
Participating Rio Rancho schools include Shining Stars Preschool and the following elementary schools: Cielo Azul, Colinas del Norte, Enchanted Hills, Ernest Stapelton, Maggie Cordova, Martin Luther King, Jr., Puesta del Sol, Rio Rancho, Sandia Vista and Vista Grande.
2. Attend the Mass Ascension
The Mass Ascension is the signature event of the Balloon Fiesta. On Mass Ascension days, balloons begin to launch at 7 a.m. (weather permitting). The spectacular scene involves the take-off of hundreds of balloons of all colors and shapes. If you have not experienced the Mass Ascension from Balloon Fiesta Park, it is a must-see. You will understand why it is the most photographed event in the world. The park opens at 4:30 a.m., and because of the crowds and parking, you should try to be there before 5:30 a.m.
3. Go to the Balloon Glow
Can’t make it to the Mass Ascension in the morning? Try the after sunset Balloon Glow which is a static display of the balloons illuminated by the fire from the propane gas tanks. The Glowdeo is the special shape balloon that lights up the balloon fiesta park field. Balloon Glows are also followed by a spectacular fireworks display.
4. Watch from Anderson Abruzzo International Balloon Museum
The Anderson Abruzzo International Balloon Museum offers a breakfast or dinner experience during the morning Mass Ascensions or evening Balloon Glows. The Balloon Museum boasts one of the best views of the Mass Ascension and Balloon Glow in Albuquerque from the comfort of the museum. Visit here for ticket information. Learn more about the museum here.
5. Ride in a Hot Air Balloon
Why not get an ariel, 360-degree view of the Balloon Fiesta from the sky? Take the trip of a lifetime in the gondola of a hot air balloon! Rainbow Ryders is the only balloon ride company authorized to take off from Balloon Fiesta Park during the Balloon Fiesta. There are also several other hot air balloon operators in the Albuquerque area.
6. Volunteer as Balloon Fiesta Navigator or Balloon Chase Crew Member
Don’t just want to sit on the sidelines but be part of the action? There are two ways to volunteer. Become a member of a chase crew or volunteer as a Balloon Fiesta navigator. Chase crews help pilots inflate, support and land balloons. Navigators provide guest services, administrative services, balloon coordination and safety, set-up, logistics and more at Balloon Fiesta Park. View more on how to volunteer.
7. Catch a Park & Ride Want to avoid traffic and driving to the Balloon Fiesta park yourself? Take a Park & Ride Shuttle. Shuttle passes include roundtrip transportation to and from the Balloon Park, admission to the Balloon Fiesta event and an expedited route to bypass traffic.
Convenient Park and Ride Locations from Mariposa:
8. Visit a Balloon Landing Park
Sometimes watching the balloons land is as fun as watching them take off. While balloons can land anywhere in the Metro area, there are a few popular landing parks such as Wildflower Park (9011 San Mateo NE & Alameda NE, Albuquerque), Vista del Norte Park (Vista Del Norte & Osuna, Albuquerque) and North Domingo Baca (Wyoming & Anaheim NE, Albuquerque).
9. Take the Rail Runner from Sandoval County/ U.S. 550 in Bernalillo
While not an official transportation partner of the Balloon Fiesta, you can catch the Rail Runner Express from the Sandoval Country/U.S. 550 to the Los Ranchos/Journal Center Station. From the Los Ranchos/Journal Center RailRunner Station, it’s about a 2-mile walk or bike along the trail where you will be among other walkers and bikers to the Balloon Fiesta Park. The Rail Runner operates its normal schedule during the Balloon Fiesta. Bikes are accommodated on the Rain Runner and a bike valet is available at the Balloon Park.
10. Watch from Virtually Anywhere in the Metro area by Stepping Outside!The beauty of living in the Albuquerque Metro is that you can step out of your home or workplace and see a sky full of balloons. If you’re lucky, you may see a balloon fly right over your house during your morning coffee and get to wave to the passengers.
Looking for a new home or custom home site near Albuquerque? Nestled among the foothills of Rio Rancho, Mariposa is a master-planned community situated just 30 minutes north of Albuquerque. Mariposa is designed for living naturally and offers a fully equipped fitness center, resort-style indoor and outdoor pools, parks, sports courts, miles of trails and abundant open space, and endless views at the Mariposa Preserve and surrounding mountains. Learn more at https://www.liveinmariposa.com/