Awesome Albuquerque October
October 3, 2009 § 5 Comments
If there’s only one month you can visit Albuquerque, it should be October.
And if you only go to one event in Albuquerque during October, it should be the balloon fiesta.
Not only has it been going on forever, but it’s also the largest hot-air-balloon festival in the world. It happens one week in October, spanning two weekends, and today was the opening day. Last year, I didn’t get to go because I was in Houston for most of it except the last day when I saw some fireworks. So this year, I wanted to be right in the center of the action. Last evening, Matt and I made the decision to buy tickets for this morning’s (Saturday) events. He had to go to work so I was in charge of buying the tickets. This was not easy. Here’s the thing about balloon fiesta: it’s really really POPULAR. People from all over the world come to this thing (actually, last year we met some people from England who make an effort to come as often as they can). And since a lot of people are like me and wait until the last minute to do anything, needless to say, the website was bogged down and as soon as I would try to buy the tickets, it would say the website was experiencing too much traffic and I should try back in a few minutes. So I tried again in a few minutes. And again. And again. In the end, I did get the tickets but the stupid website somehow managed to charge my credit card eight times. This did not make me happy, and I’m foreseeing much time on the phone trying to get those charges removed.
I’d say that was probably my main complaint about the whole ordeal. The number of people going to balloon fiesta is so large I think it’s a little hard for the organizers to handle. The lines for the park & ride bus were also a little ridiculous. Once you get the actual event, though, it’s totally fine. There’s a lot of people but there’s still enough room to move around and see everything you want.
We arrived at the park in the morning around 8 am, when the mass ascension was going on. This is really cool to see. The balloons go up in waves starting at about 7 am so when we got there a lot of balloons were already in the sky but there were still tons on the ground. One of the coolest parts about the mass ascension is how close you can get to the balloons as they’re taking off. Honestly you could probably stand right next to the basket if you wanted. When a balloon is totally inflated and finally gets going, everyone around claps and cheers. This is amusing.
One of the popular favorites is the Creamland cow. We saw this one go up. It’s really impressive and I totally commend the pilots for being able to fly this thing because it’s not like a normally shaped hot air balloon. Also, it’s HUGE.
We spent a good part of the morning running around to the different balloons going up as I snapped some pictures. The first thing we saw go up were the bees. They’re super cute! (and also synchronized perfectly)
I was very excited by all the different colors of balloons, especially the purple ones!
And overhead shots were pretty cool, too.
But my favorite part was just seeing lots and lots of balloons in the sky.
There are plenty of other things to do at balloon fiesta. Obviously, there are tons of food vendors and lots of different arts & crafts, memorobilia items, etc. for sale. These are pricey but maybe worth it if you’re from out of town. We didn’t really spend a lot of time there, though. One thing we did do was watch the Air Force band play. They’re actually pretty good.
There was also a guy doing a magic act and two police helicopters that landed and were being shown off. (Matt was much more impressed with the latter)
Eventually, we found our way back to the bus line (ugh) and headed home. Aside from the silly computer mishaps, it was a really great way to spend an October morning here in Albuquerque, New Mexico.