The largest hot air balloon event in the world is held every October in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The Balloon Fiesta is a 9-day event that features around 750 hot air balloons of all shapes and sizes. The first Balloon Fiesta was first held in 1972 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a local radio station.
Albuquerque is an ideal location for the event due to its unique weather conditions that create predictable wind patterns. The Albuquerque Box makes it easier to navigate the balloons. Cool ground temperatures cause winds at low altitudes to be southerly while winds at higher altitudes tend to be northerly making navigation in a vertical box-shaped path possible.
Popular events during the festival include Mass Ascensions, Special Shape Rodeo, and Balloon Glows.
Mass Ascension events start in the wee hours of the morning when hot air balloons are inflated to ascend into the deep blue New Mexico sky. The best part about it is that event visitors are allowed to wander amongst these massive aircraft as they prepare for take-off. There are no roped off areas. Being able to witness the grandeur of the Mass Ascension up close makes for a truly unforgettable experience. As they inflate, the rows of the towering balloons become the skyscrapers of a surreal, giant bounce house city. The action is intense as crews rush to get ready. Burners roar all around, shooting out massive blue flames. The madness is fleeting though. As the balloons take to the sky, spectators find themselves in a vast, empty field of grass which stands in stark contrast to the hustling and bustling, almost claustrophobic, atmosphere of pre-ascension.
For more information on this event, please visit the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta Official website here