Hot Tips for Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta: Oct. 4-12

  • For 2014's 43rd Fiesta, the Yoda special Shape balloon from Belgium inflated next to its Darth Vader counterpart to the surprise and delight of the estimated 100,000 person audience.

    Be With You May the Force Be

    For 2014's 43rd Fiesta, for the first time in Albuquerque the Yoda special shape balloon from Belgium inflated next to its Darth Vader counterpart to the surprise and delight of the estimated 100,000-person audience.

    Photo courtesy of Steve Larese

  • The 43rd annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta takes to the brilliant turquoise skies of Albuquerque, New Mexico, Oct. 4 through 12, 2014. The world's largest continuous balloon festival began in 1971 with a birthday party thrown by creator Sid

    Getting Fired Up

    The 43rd annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta takes to the brilliant turquoise skies of Albuquerque, New Mexico, Oct. 4 through 12, 2014. The world's largest continuous balloon festival began in 1971 with a birthday party thrown by creator Sid Cutter for his mother, and has grown into an international celebration of ballooning that sees an average of 600 balloons from 22 countries. Throughout the first full week of October, more than 500,000 visitors will attend ballooning events in Albuquerque. Pictured here, Fiesta begins with balloons inflating in the chilly early hours of the day, usually beginning at 5:45 a.m. Several balloon, called Dawn Patrol, inflate and fly prior to the others to verify that flying conditions are good. Their glowing envelopes against Albuquerque's still-dark sky is a favorite sight for those willing to get up extra early. Click here for a full schedule of the week's ballooning events.

    Photo courtesy of Steve Larese

  • Mass Ascensions are by far the most popular events during Balloon Fiesta, during which all balloons launch in waves and paint the Albuquerque sky with color throughout the morning. Each day, more than 100,000 visitors from all over the world can attend th

    The Greatest Ballooning Show on Earth

    Mass Ascensions are by far the most popular events during Balloon Fiesta, during which all balloons launch in waves and paint the Albuquerque sky with color throughout the morning. Each day, more than 100,000 visitors from all over the world can attend these weekend morning launches. On average, 600 balloons take flight throughout the early morning in waves. The most balloons ever to fly at Balloon Fiesta was 1,000 balloons in 2000; numbers have been limited since then due to safety concerns. This year, the morning of Wed., Oct. 8 sees the Flight of Nations mass ascension, in which international pilots launch first and display their nations' flags. To beat the traffic and parking lines, use the event's Park & Ride system, or better yet, ride a bike to Fiesta.

    Photo courtesy of Steve Larese

  • A special shape balloon "Sunny Boy" inflates with its namesake. Special shape balloons (any non-traditionally shaped teardrop balloon) are so popular that they have their own flying days, called Special Shape Rodeos. Click here for a schedule of balloonin

    Special Shapes

    A special shape balloon "Sunny Boy" inflates with its namesake. Special shape balloons (any non-traditionally shaped teardrop balloon) are so popular that they have their own flying days, called Special Shape Rodeos. Click here for a schedule of ballooning events, and here for a listing of special shapes attending the 2014 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.

    Photo courtesy of Steve Larese

  • A couple steals a kiss during lift off as they drift past the Sandía Mountains. Visitors can experience the Fiesta from the air, click here for more information. For those who prefer to keep their feet on the ground, help is always needed with launching b

    Love is in the Air

    A couple steals a kiss during lift off as they drift past the Sandía Mountains. Visitors can experience the Fiesta from the air, click here for more information. For those who prefer to keep their feet on the ground, help is always needed with launching balloons and helping them to land as part of a chase crew. Click here for information on how to sign up to crew a balloon.

    Photo courtesy of Steve Larese

  • Balloons drift over the Anderson-Abruzzo International Balloon Museum at the south end of the 78-acre balloon field, which highlights the history and science of ballooning from its origins in France in the 1700s through the world wars and record-breaking

    Anderson-Abruzzo International Balloon Museum

    Balloons drift over the Anderson-Abruzzo International Balloon Museum at the south end of the 78-acre balloon field, which highlights the history and science of ballooning from its origins in France in the 1700s through the world wars and record-breaking altitude and around-the-world voyages, with plenty of hands-on activities and demonstrations for kids of all ages. It's well worth a visit after the day's ballooning events.

    Photo courtesy of Steve Larese

  • When winds are favorable, balloonists enjoy drifting along the Río Grande that flows to the west of the balloon park. Some perform splash-n-dashes, in which pilots skillfully touch down on the water's surface before lifting off again. Guided kayaking tour

    Along the Rio Grande

    When winds are favorable, balloonists enjoy drifting along the Río Grande that flows to the west of the balloon park. Some perform splash-n-dashes, in which pilots skillfully touch down on the water's surface before lifting off again. Guided kayaking tours allow spectators to view this spectacle close up. Albuquerque's sunny weather, cold morning and air currents created by the Sandia Mountains, called the box, make Albuquerque one of the prime ballooning cities in the world.

    Photo courtesy of Steve Larese

  • The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta sees two gas balloon races launch from its field this year, the Gordon Bennett and the America's Challenge. These races are unique in that helium-filled balloons (as opposed to hot-air balloons) are used. The t

    More Than Just Hot Air

    The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta sees two gas balloon races launch from its field this year, the Gordon Bennett and the America's Challenge. These races are unique in that helium-filled balloons (as opposed to hot-air balloons) are used. The team that flies the farthest wins. In 2005, a Belgium team broke the 1912 record by flying 2119 miles.

    Photo courtesy of Steve Larese

  • The "Little Bees" special shape balloons from Arizona are a crowd favorite, seen here glowing during a Special Shape Glowdeo (in which only special shape balloons participate in a balloon glow). This year's Glowdeo takes place Oct. 9 and 10 beginning at 5

    Busy Bees

    The "Little Bees" special shape balloons from Arizona are a crowd favorite, seen here glowing during a Special Shape Glowdeo (in which only special shape balloons participate in a balloon glow). This year's Glowdeo takes place Oct. 9 and 10 beginning at 5:45 p.m.

    Photo courtesy of Steve Larese

  • Evening balloon glows involve hundreds of tethered balloons illuminating their envelopes in unison. Spectators stroll through this colorful forest, chatting with pilots from all over the world and warming up when the burners are flared. Popular now throug

    A Forest of Color

    Evening balloon glows involve hundreds of tethered balloons illuminating their envelopes in unison. Spectators stroll through this colorful forest, chatting with pilots from all over the world and warming up when the burners are flared. Popular now throughout the world, the first balloon glow took place in Albuquerque in Dec. 1979, when several pilots inflated their balloons on Christmas Eve.

    Photo courtesy of Steve Larese

  • After the balloon glows on Oct. 4, 5, 9, 10 and 11, fireworks continue to light up Albuquerque's night sky. These shows, the largest in New Mexico, have become an attraction even when conditions are such that balloons can't inflate for the evening glows.

    More Fire in the Sky

    After the balloon glows on Oct. 4, 5, 9, 10 and 11, fireworks continue to light up Albuquerque's night sky. These shows, the largest in New Mexico, have become an attraction even when conditions are such that balloons can't inflate for the evening glows. Bring lightweight chairs and warm layers to enjoy the fireworks from the field after the balloons deflate, usually around 8 p.m.

    Photo courtesy of Steve Larese

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