The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is made up of so many events, each one unique. But what is a special shapes rodeo, and what is a glowdeo? Each event at the Fiesta is different, and some take place in the morning, some in the afternoon, and some in the evenings. Find one that is just what you're looking for, at just the right time of day.
The 2016 Balloon Fiesta celebrates 45 years of this great event.
Although not everyone who comes to a morning ascension is necessarily an early riser, it helps. Recommended arrival time depends on whether you want to see the Dawn Patrol, or are good with just the mass ascension. Since Dawn Patrol launch starts at 6:00 a.m., arrive by 5:30; since mass ascension begins at about 7:15 a.m., you may want to arrive by 6:45 a.m. Remember, breakfast at the Fiesta means burritos, french toast sticks and many other treats, and there is always coffee, which makes the early hour so much easier.
The Dawn Patrol pilots take off prior to mass ascension to give the mass ascension pilots an idea of wind speeds and directions at varying altitudes. About a dozen of these balloons go up in a choreographed inflation set to music and a laser light show.
When: 5:45 a.m. with launch at 6:00 a.m.
Dates: Every morning of fiesta
When all the balloons registered for the fiesta gather together at the same time for launch, it's called a mass ascension.
Each year, there are more than 500 balloons. Mass ascensions take place in the morning, and balloons begin to rise about 7 a.m. At the Albuquerque Fiesta, spectators are able to stand between the balloons and watch them as they rise. This makes for an immediate and amazing experience of sights and sounds.
Since so many balloons launch during mass ascension, there are "zebras" or "umpires" available who act like traffic cops, directing the flow of balloon traffic to ensure safety. They are called zebras because they wear black and white shirts. The balloons are led by a balloon that carries the American flag.
When: 7 a.m. - 8:30 a.m
Dates: October 1, 2, 8, 9
Special Shapes Rodeo
The rodeo is one of the most popular Balloon Fiesta events. For two days, the special shape balloons launch from the park during mass ascension. The standard balloons fly in to the park rather than launch from it. In the evening, the special shape balloons light up as they would during a Balloon Glow. Balloons can be made into any shape, and some of the most popular ones are the hand-holding bumblebees, the Creamland cow, and the head of Smokey the Bear. Each year brings a new special shape balloon. Special Shapes Rodeos occur on the Thursday and Friday mornings of the Fiesta for a special mass ascension.
When: 7 a.m.
Dates: October 6 and 7
Special competitions take place some mornings at Balloon Fiesta Park. On October 8, the special Flight of the Nations Flying Competition has balloons competing from worldwide.
When: 8 a.m
Dates: October 3, 4, 5, 6
The balloons inflate, and then it grows dark, and a different kind of magic begins. What started as a Christmas tribute of glowing balloons quickly became one of the most popular events of the Fiesta. Balloon glows started in Albuquerque, and we're proud to boast that glows now take place all over the world.
Balloon Glow Tips
The balloon glows are some of the most popular events of the Fiesta. Some tips for attending the glows are to bring a flashlight to aid with seeing, to mark where you parked so you can find your way back in the dark, and to dress in layers. Sometimes the evening starts out warm to end up cool when the sun goes down. Although the balloon glows have different names, they are essentially the same. Some are followed by fireworks, some feature special shapes.
Find out which is which.
Twilight Twinkle Glow
This is the first of the balloon glows, which continue through the week, with varying names. Make no mistake, each event is wonderful.
When: 5:45 p.m.
Date: Saturday, October 1
Balloon Glow happens each first Sunday night of Balloon Fiesta. For this event, the balloons inflate but then stay on the ground. Then, as they glow, it grows dark, creating an enchanting effect. The glowing balloons look like giant, balloon shaped candles. Best of all, the balloon glow is followed by a spectacular fireworks display.
When: 5:45 p.m.
Date: Sunday, October 2
Night Magic Glow
Each second Saturday night of Balloon Fiesta, balloons gather on the field for a glowing night display. Just like the balloon glow, the night magic glow has all the balloons on the field glowing without rising into the air, creating a magical candle-like display. The glow is followed by a spectacular fireworks display.
When: 6 p.m.
Date: Saturday, October 8
Special Shapes Glowdeo
The special magic of the special shapes balloon along with the glow of the balloons against the dark makes for a very special event.
When: 6 p.m.
Dates: October 6, 7
After Glow Fireworks Show
Seeing the balloons glowing en masse is a great experience that gets greater with the after flow fireworks. Be sure to bring chairs or blankets so you can sit and enjoy the spectacular.
When: 8 p.m. (times may change depending on field and weather conditions)
Dates: October 1, 2, 6, 7, 8
See what the weather is like during Balloon Fiesta.
Find the entertainment lineup for this year's Balloon Fiesta.