You know that hot air balloons are pretty amazing, and you might have even attended a ballooning festival in your neck of the woods at some point in time, but truly, nothing you’ve seen before can compare to the biggest balloon festival in the world, which takes place in Albuquerque, New Mexico every year. It’s likely that kids have never seen anything like it before in their lives—and neither have the adults.
Quite the spectacle
For 11 days and nights, families have the opportunity to experience something unique. Wake the little ones up early and get there long before the sun rises, so you don’t miss the laser light show and morning glow. A few balloons will take off while it’s still dark, lighting up the sky with the fire from their burners As they ascend and the sky starts getting lighter, make your way out on to the field and find a spot amongst the spectators to watch the first balloons launch. It is crowded, so keep kiddos close, but don’t think for a second that it will inhibit your ability to enjoy the experience—just keep an eye on the skies.
Sights and sounds
Colors start to appear everywhere as more and more balloons fill with air, and the roar of each burners competes with the sounds from the noisy crowd. Children will be amazed at how large the balloons actually are up close, and don’t be surprised when a referee, or more affectionately called “Zebras” by festival regulars, shoos you and the family out of the way to make room for a balloon as it stretches and grows in preparation for flight. A new kind of excitement builds as each balloon starts to lift gradually off the ground; the crowd below cheers excitedly and the roaring of the burners finally gets drowned out. Make the most of your experience by moving throughout the field to watch new balloons blow up and take off.
It just keeps getting better
Contrary to popular belief, it’s almost impossible to get bored at this festival. It just keeps getting better. Every time you think you’ve seen the coolest balloon ever, another one takes its place in your affections, and the sky is constantly filling up with new shapes and colors. The entire show is narrated by announcers just like a sporting event, and you can hear interesting stats and facts about the balloons as you meander through the crowd. Kids will want to stop for a plastic blow up hot air balloon or a light up sword, but the real treasures can be found in the booths along the outer pathway. Everything from giant turkey legs to thick ponchos can be bought here, as well as plenty of other worthwhile trinkets.
Calling it a day
You have two good options for leaving the festival grounds: go early while the balloons are still taking off or go at least an hour after all the balloons have taken to the sky. The event is so highly populated that there is a very, very long line to get into the parking lot once the show starts to wind down, so plan accordingly. Meander through the little shops, grab a bite to eat or hang out and play pass on the launch field. You can even find a balloon that has landed and watch as the crew deflates it and folds it up in preparation for next time.
Go out and spend the afternoon exploring all of the entertaining and enlightening activities Albuquerque has to offer before coming back in the evening to listen to bands play, watch another Balloon Glow or enjoy a fireworks show with the family. Each day is different, but every day is spectacular.