Image by @independent_travel_cats on Instagram
There is something truly magical about the Balloon Fiesta. Hundreds of vibrantly colored hot air balloons fill the beautiful New Mexico sky for the most whimsical morning you could ask for. Like gumdrops in the sky, the only thing I can compare this magical event to is my childhood fantasy of living in a gingerbread house within the magical board game, Candy Land.
I wouldn't consider myself a Balloon Fiesta “expert,” but this is my favorite time of year and I've gone enough times to at least offer some advice for anyone who wants to get the most out of their experience this year.
TIP #1: The early bird does in fact, get the worm...
Image by @equis00 on Instagram
My best piece of advice would be to get there as early as possible. And when I say early, I mean early...like be-there-at-5am-early! Not only will you beat the traffic and lines of people getting into the fiesta, but if you get there when it's still dark, you are practically getting the "Balloon Glow" for free ( I will elaborate more on that in just a minute). Be sure to choose a morning where the laser light show is going on, it is definitely worth being in the park to see that. Okay, back to the balloon glow...every year, the Balloon Fiesta offers an event on Friday and Saturday night where the balloons glow in the dark while music is playing followed by fireworks. It IS pretty cool to see the balloons light up at night, but again, you can get both the balloon glow and the mass ascension by just planning accordingly. Plus, the mass ascension is way cooler.
TIP #2: Dress warm and dress in layers!
Part of the reason why I love the balloon fiesta so much is because it marks the first time I’m able to bundle up and bring out my scarf and hat! Again, because of how early I like to get there, it is 20 degrees cooler than what I’m used to in the mornings. So layer up! Pack gloves and hand-warmers, layer your socks and jackets and don't forget a hat or earmuffs! It is freeeeeeeeezing! But as the morning goes on and the sun comes out, it does warm up, so you will thank me once you are able to remove a layer or two.
TIP #3: B.Y.O.W (water)
Image by @calebbsprenger on Instagram
Do not get me wrong, I love supporting the many local businesses that come out to the fiesta but when it comes to bottled water, I prefer to bring my own. I would rather put the money I save from one bottle of water toward a breakfast burrito or a funnel cake! The balloon fiesta does allow outside food and drinks, but be sure to leave any glass containers at home (and obviously, no alcohol!) For a list of all FAQ's, click here.
TIP #4: Take lots of pictures!
Impress your online followers with literally the most amazing filter-less pictures ever (okay, maybe not filter-less). If you have a Go-Pro or a high quality camera, I highly recommend it bringing it, but if you don't have one, don't worry, your phone will definitely suffice. The blue sky and colored balloons provides the perfect backdrop for any pictures that you take. As for posing, it’s very easy to get creative and capture the perfect photo. I'm not joking, these will be your best Insta photos ever!
TIP #5: Stay awhile!
Image by @alexis_dawn37 on Instagram
Once the balloons have ascended, then it is time to check out all the other cool things going on in the balloon fiesta park! Local artists and crafters from all over the state gather for the Artisans at Balloon Fiesta Show to showcase all of the great art from all over! If you are going to buy a souvenir, I always like to buy a handcrafted original one from the art show! There are also lots of activities that take place after the ascension. Last year, Canon was giving out free printed photos. I got some really cool things from other vendors as well. For a full list of schedules and events for this year’s fiesta, please visit the official website.
Here at Hotel Andaluz, we love all things Albuquerque! If you do go to the balloon fiesta this year, be sure to share any photos through social media and tag us on Instagram so we can feature them in future blog or online posts!