Balloon Fiesta


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‘The world’s a nicer place in my beautiful balloon’ – from the 5th Dimension’s hit song, Up, Up and Away couldn’t be more appropriate in beautiful Albuquerque at Fantasy’s Seven-day Balloon Fiesta Rally.

Every fall since 1972, New Mexico’s clear blue skies come alive with hundreds of colorful balloons in all shapes and sizes.  And Fantasy is right there – in fact, really right there, as our Rally goers actually live right at the official Balloon Fiesta Park with premium RV parking, including water and electric hookups.  We have our own private hospitality tent offering snacks and coffee each morning, as well as catered meals and entertainment.  Guests receive official Balloon Fiesta pins and programs.

Balloon FiestaOn arrival day, we hold an orientation and get acquainted party, followed by a visit to the neighboring Anderson Abruzzo International Balloon Museum, overlooking the balloon fields.  Here, we learn about the history of ballooning, along with the science and technology of lighter-than-air aviation.  We return back to the hospitality tent, where Fantasy has prepared a welcome dinner for our group with southwestern entertainment.  We end the evening with a private demonstration from a balloon pilot, who demonstrates his basket and burner operations.

Balloon FiestaTime has been set aside for exploring the fascinating and diverse cultures surrounding the city of Albuquerque.  Our bus tour to Acoma takes through one of New Mexico’s scenic and historic areas with breathtaking views and amazing rock formations.
Our guided tour of the Sky City Cultural and Haak’u Museum provides us with insight into the unique history of the Acoma Pueblo and is the gateway to Acoma ‘Sky City’.  Initially the home of the Anasazi people, the pueblo is the oldest continually inhabited settlement in North America and is still alive and home to native Americans who preserve their culture, arts and crafts.  We stop at the San Estevan del Rey Mission, built in 1629 by Spanish missionaries hoping to convert the Acoma people to Christianity.

Locally in Albuquerque, we visit the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, where exhibits of the history, culture and art of the 19 New Mexico Pueblos are on display. We come home to yet another Fantasy Fiesta Party at our Hospitality Tent.

Balloon Fiesta

It’s Dawn Patrol early every morning – a few brave balloons check out the weather and flight conditions for the rest of the balloonists.  Inflations begin about 5:45 a.m. and launch about 6 – an early morning liftoff.  But because of our location, we only need to roll out of bed, grab a cup of coffee and walk outside to see the breathtaking sight of colorful glowing balloons rising up into the early morning sky!  After the Balloon Fiesta Opening Ceremonies, we experience our first mass ascension, when many hundreds of balloons lift off into the morning sky. When they get the green light, balloons from all over the world rise together in a harmonious lift-off.  We can also take in the Fiesta’s Chainsaw Carving Invitational, where carvers from all over the world create amazing sculptures – all with powerful chainsaws.  When darkness approaches, we enjoy the Twinkle Twinkle Glow – when all the balloons fire up their burners and light up at the same time – perhaps the most spectacular moment at Balloon Fiesta.  New Mexico’s most spectacular fireworks display follows.

It’s another early morning as we rise and shine for yet another Dawn Patrol, followed by a 7:00 a.m. Balloon Mass Ascension.  Balloon Fiesta Today, hundreds of classic, vintage and special interest vehicles from all over the country will parade onto the fields.  One of the best balloonists’ traditions is to break open a bottle of champagne for a toast at the end of each flight.  Today, Fantasy celebrates this custom with our own Balloonist Brunch, complete with champagne and toasts.  We might even be able to sneak in a brief afternoon nap before we had back to the Balloon Fields for tonight’s Balloon Glow and fireworks show.

Today, competition flying begins!  After the morning Dawn Glow, targets are set up on the balloon fields.  Balloonists must drop their markers as close to the targets as possible.  We then set out for the Turquoise Museum, which features large collections of turquoise on display, exhibits on turquoise mines and even a working lapidary shop depicting how these beautiful stones are transformed into jewelry.  Our evening is spent at our hospitality tent enjoying a festive farewell dinner with live entertainment, and of course, the company of our fellow Fantasy guests.

Balloon FiestaIt’s our final day of Balloon Fiesta Rally, and we begin it with the Flight of the Nations Mass Ascension, honoring all of the countries represented at Balloon Fiesta.  Up to two balloons from each country, each carrying its nation’s flag, launch.  Follow this up with our Goodbye Continental Breakfast, and we’re on our way to other destinations.

The Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta is a tremendous visual experience – the colorful balloons, clear blue skies, glowing red mesas in the distance plus the diverse cultures which make up this friendly community have brought us to new heights during our New Mexico adventure.

For more on the 7 Day Balloon Fiesta: