Albuquerque Balloons and MoreBalloon Liftoff

Clear blue New Mexico skies splashed with vibrant color, cottonwoods lining the Rio Grande River turned to a rich gold, the aroma of roasted chiles – October in Albuquerque. For nine days more than 600 hot air balloons take flight from Balloon Fiesta Park with tens of thousands of appreciative spectators craning necks skyward. The annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, October 3-11, 2009 draws balloon pilots and visitors from around the world.

Ideal hot air ballooning conditions occur in the early morning hours after sunrise. Headlight leads our way to the park each day. I’m not a great morning person but as soon as we walk among the balloons preparing for liftoff  I shed any grumpiness from my own early rising. Weather permitting, ascensions are scheduled each morning at 7am, hundreds and hundreds of hot air balloons drift oSpecial Shapes Balloonsver Albuquerque on weekends.

Wednesday’s Flight of the Nations features International balloons from nearly 20 countries – Slovenia to South Africa, Brazil to Israel. Competitions and prize grabs challenge balloon pilots on other days.

Special shape balloons take to the skies Thursday and Friday mornings. Four new shapes join 83 returning favorites. Stinky the Skunk, Lady Joker, a fire engine and as a tribute to Army aviation history Eddie and Rickenbacker make their Fiesta debut in 2009. Only the ever popular and sometimes utterly amazing special shapes lift off from the field those nights and participate in the evening Glowdeo.

Night skies light up with balloon glows five evenings during the Fiesta. The sight may be even more spectacular than morning ascensions, well worth returning to Balloon Fiesta Park in late afternoon. A firework show caps each of the evening sessions after the glows.Blue Balloon

Most morning everyone’s packing up and heading out of the park by ten o’clock, there’s still a perfect autumn day ahead for additional events. Albuquerque easily entertains her guests with a full slate of activities, scenery, museums, culture and arts. Worthy of attention any time of year, I share ideas in the immediate area we’ve enjoyed and that  fit nicely into Balloon Fiesta’s schedule.

Click each activity to read more about the delightful options.

More activities posted soon.

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