Special Shapes at Balloon Fiesta

  • Airabelle, The Flying Cow takes off from the Special Shapes Rodeo

    Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

    Travelers who come to Albuquerque in early October will likely find the morning sky dotted with colorful hot air balloons during the annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. This year's event takes place October 5-13, and as always, the balloons will come in all sorts of shapes.

    Photo courtesy of Raymond Watt

  • Hopper T Frog

    Special Shapes Rodeo

    Not all balloons are created equal, and each year, pilots show up with balloons in the form of all sorts of critters and objects. If you want to catch all the special shapes balloons, be sure to attend the Balloon Fiesta's most popular event, the Special Shapes Rodeo. On Thursday and Friday mornings, only these special balloons can launch from Balloon Fiesta Park.

    Photo courtesy of Britt Reints

  • Two of the three Little Bee balloons

    Dozens of Special Shapes

    More than 80 special shapes balloons are expected to participate in the 2013 events, including old favorites like Airabelle, The Flying Cow and the Purple People Eater as well as some new ones, like Little Wizard and a giant hummingbird.

    Photo courtesy of Raymond Watt

  • Darth Vader Balloon

    The Dark Side of the Force

    Several of the fiesta's special shapes are made in likeness of pop culture characters, like this Darth Vader balloon modeled after the Sith Lord's helmet. Other pop culture shapes include Snow White, Angry Bird and Smokey the Bear.

    Photo courtesy of Jon Hurd

  • Flying Ristra stands out as a symbol of New Mexico in the sky.

    Shapes from Around the Globe

    Part of what makes the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta so special is that pilots bring their balloons from all corners of the globe – special shapes are no exception. Balloons like the Flying Ristra and Angry Bird are flown by New Mexican pilots, while the pink elephant Nelly-B hails from Belgium, Snow White from the UK, Chariot from France and Scuba Diver from Brazil.

    Photo courtesy of

  • Special Shapes Glowdeo

    If you can't drag yourself out of bed early enough for the Special Shapes Rodeo, you're in luck. The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta also hosts two special shapes evening events on Thursday and Friday, the Special Shapes Glowdeo. At dusk, the special shapes balloons will gather on the field and light up the night.

    Photo courtesy of David Herrera

  • Spunky the Skunk

    Another returning special shape, Spunky the flying skunk, was born in Brazil in 2009 and will celebrate his fourth birthday by flying through the skies over Albuquerque. We'll have to wait and see what other shapes will join him in flight.

    Photo courtesy of John Fowler

  • Special Shapes Rodeo

    Mass Ascension

    While the Special Shapes Rodeo and Glowdeo highlight these fanciful balloons, you'll see many of them during Mass Ascensions, when all participating balloons take to the skies together. It's one of the most spectacular sights of the festival and a great opportunity to take amazing, colorful photos.

    Photo courtesy of

  • Balloon Discovery Center

    If you're curious how these massive special shapes balloons manage to fly so gracefully, make sure to pay a visit to the Balloon Discovery Center on the north end of Balloon Fiesta Park. Within the tent, you'll find a series of interactive exhibits on the history and science behind balloon flight and well as information on what makes Albuquerque such a great place to fly.

    Photo courtesy of David Herrera

  • See Your Favorite Shapes on TV

    If you can't make it to Balloon Fiesta Park, you can still catch all the special shapes action through live coverage on Albuquerque's local news stations. This internationally renowned event has been broadcast live to countries as far away as Japan! Another great place to spot special shapes is from the top of Sandia Peak, via the Sandia Peak Tramway.

    Photo courtesy of David Herrera