Every year thousands of people come together to see over 500 massive hot air balloons fill the sky in the Land of Enchantment for the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta! From the standard multi colored balloons to crazy special shapes such as Darth Vader and Yoda, this event is a one of a kind and a totally worthwhile trip to make! With over 800,000 visitors in 2018, the Balloon Fiesta is the most photographed event on the planet and the largest in all of New Mexico. After attending for the last five years, and taking photos of the last two, I have curated a list of some very helpful tips to get the most out of your hot air balloon experience!
TIP #1: Get there early! This is the most photographed event in the world and brings hundreds of thousands of people every year. I recommend getting to the park around 5 am to avoid lines and traffic! Besides beating traffic, there are a few other benefits to being at the park before anyone else. If you would like to take photos of the balloons and don't have a camera, or want to try a new camera, Canon has a booth where they rent out cameras for free to anyone with a driver's license. These rentals are first come, first serve and they will run out so being there early will make sure you can take advantage of their amazing offer.
TIP #2: Know where to take photos in Balloon Fiesta Park! The image below was taken in the southwest corner of the park where there are some pools of water that will get you a really great reflection in your photos! This is one of the newest ways to get a unique perspective of the balloons for your images. On the north end of the park there is a hill that sits about 25 feet higher than the field below giving you unobstructed views of the balloons and some pretty cool perspectives! For anyone not familiar with their sense of direction in Albuquerque, the mountains are to the east as a landmark to help you orient yourself!
TIP #3: Stay warm! During Balloon Fiesta, Albuquerque really starts to cool down and you need to dress the part. I recommend layers! Long pants, a warm hoodie, and a beanie or scarf to keep your head warm is ideal! Bring a backpack to store your layers because when the sunrises it will warm up and you don't want to be too hot! If you need even more of a boost in the morning make sure to head straight to the Pinon Coffee booth when you get through the entrance for a needed caffeine boost!
TIP #4: Go outside of Balloon Fiesta Park! Once you get a day or two inside of the park, right in the middle of the action, we recommend going to a few other spots to watch the balloons ascend! The two main locations I like are: West Bluff Park (2408 Alamogordo Dr NW Albuquerque, NM 87120, United States) and Oxbow Bluff (Near 4808 Namaste Rd NW, Albuquerque, NM 87120, United States). These locations offer you some of the best views of sunrise with the hundreds of balloons rising up in the sky. On top of that, both these locations are right by the river so you can see the balloons do a "dip" down into the river!
TIP #5: Know which way to get to the event and where to park! There are two ways to get to the park by vehicle - drive or take the shuttle. While taking a shuttle can be a fun way to get there at first, it is not the most efficient process. If you are driving, we recommend taking the northern entrance near Tramway Blvd for quicker access. Due to much less traffic coming from the north this entrance tends to be much quicker than the south entrance off Alameda.
ALSO don't forget cash for parking! Usually it is about $10 a car so get some friends and carpool.
For anyone that may not know, I work as a contractor for Simply Social Media as a Content Specialist. This possition have given me so many oppritunities to chances to learn and grow so when I had the chance to write about my favorite event, the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, I knew I had to share it here as well!
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