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History of the Albuquerque International Balloon Festival

Albuquerque hot air balloon festival

The Albuquerque International Balloon Festival is a major attraction in New Mexico. This event is celebrating 50 years going strong in 2022, but the beginnings of this festival were not always so grand. This event began as a 13-balloon event in 1972 and has grown to around 600 balloons and 700 pilots, a far cry from its humble beginnings. The festival lasts nine days in October and features a music fiesta, beautiful sights, and stalls packed with local vendors. 

How the Albuquerque International Balloon Festival Grew
This festival has grown by leaps and bounds over its 50-year history, but it used to be much larger. In 2000, the festival hosted over 1,000 balloons; however, the hot air balloons are now somewhat limited due to less landing space. With an increase of about 600 balloons, this festival is still breathtaking, and much of the landing space has been replaced by fair activities and events in the nearby towns.

Founded by Susan Johnson, director of the KOB station, Sid Cutter, Don and Mike Draper, and Tom Rutherford, the idea of a balloon race took shape in 1972 and grew into the event it is today. While the first event was rocky, with last-minute cancelations and horrible weather, the balloon festival opened to 10,000 guests in 1972. 

The number of guests has grown to hundreds of thousands in recent years. While these numbers have changed due to pandemic restrictions in 2020 and beyond, the festival is open for business and has plenty of opportunities for people to experience. Since 2017, people unable to travel to Albuquerque can experience the festival online thanks to Balloon Fiesta Live!, hosted via live stream with commentary. 

If you’re looking to experience all 350 acres of this festival, be sure to plan ahead, there’s so much to do that even nine days is too little to see everything there is! 

What to See at the International Balloon Festival
While obviously, the balloons are the highlight of the festival, there are plenty of other things to see. Not only is Music Fiesta hosted during the balloon festival (featuring countless bands and musical artists all performing), but also several other events all merge into one incredible nine-day event. There’s plenty to experience here, including Balloon Glow, Night Magic Glow, and Special Shape Rodeo. You’re missing out if you’ve never seen lit-up hot air balloons soaring through the sky. 

There is so much to do at this year’s event; your best option is to check out their guest guide for more information. Still, there’s plenty to talk about here, including a chainsaw carving exhibition, skydiving, aerial shows, and more. If you’re a fan of car shows, be sure to show up on the second day, while there are fireworks and kids’ events on other days of the week. 

Many people bring their RVs to various campgrounds outside the International Balloon Festival to get an elevated view of the balloon shows without worrying about all the crowds. You should quickly reserve a spot in advance, as this event. While there are plenty of hotels and lodging options in Albuquerque, nothing quite beats the view from the various campgrounds near the festival, so be sure to check these out if you plan on going.

With so much to do, be sure to take your time to explore the festival. Every year brings new experiences and events to the balloon festival, so while this is a bucket list item, you should try and visit every year for new and exciting experiences.

If you want to take your RV to the Albuquerque International Balloon Festival, stop by for a tune-up at our location. We’ll ensure your RV is running in tip-top shape before hitting the road. Also, if you’re looking to invest in a new RV, come to Good Sense RV to check out what we have on the lot. You’re sure to find an RV that will have you soaring high like a hot air balloon. 

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