Your Guide to RVing at the Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque

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View of balloons in the sky at Balloon Festival in Albuquerque

If you’re an RVer, you’ve probably heard of the International Balloon Fiesta held in Albuquerque, N.M., every October. But have you been? If you haven’t, it’s time to start making plans.

The Balloon Festival in Albuquerque will blow your mind! From the night glow of hot air balloons to the acrobatics of skydivers, the event is unlike any other.

So let’s learn more about the balloon festival. Albuquerque is waiting for you!

About the Balloon Festival in Albuquerque

Every October, the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta brings hundreds of balloonists and thousands of visitors to watch the sky light up with hot air balloons for nine days.

When it began in 1972, only 13 balloons were launched. But the event has grown so much that there’s now a 365-acre Balloon Fiesta Park where over 500 balloons launch each October.

But it’s not just the launching of hot air balloons that brings visitors from all over the world. The nine-day event includes all kinds of activities like live entertainment, chainsaw carving, and skydiving.

About Albuquerque, N.M.

Albuquerque is in central New Mexico at the intersection of Interstate 40 and Interstate 25. The beautiful Sandia Mountains lie east of New Mexico’s most populous city, while the Rio Grande flows north to south. 

According to the US Census in 2020, Albuquerque is home to approximately 564,000 people. It’s famous for its art and diverse restaurant scene that many people enjoy when they attend the Balloon Festival in Albuquerque.

Where Is the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta?

The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is at the Balloon Fiesta Park. It’s north of Alameda Boulevard, one mile west of Interstate 25.

Because tens of thousands of people attend the event, it’s always best to arrive early or take the provided shuttles from outside the park.

Your Guide to RVing at the Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque

If you’re ready to join the 80,000 people attending this year’s Balloon Fiesta, you should know a few things. Understanding how the event operates and navigating the huge crowds are essential to enjoying this enchanting event.

Event Tickets 

Tickets go on sale in April. Although you can purchase general admission tickets at the gate, it’s best to order them ahead of time. General admission is $15 per person per session.

The event is divided into morning sessions and evening sessions every day. So the $15 ticket will give one person access to all events in either a one-morning or one-evening session.

Park and Ride tickets are also available for purchase. These provide guests with round-trip transportation to the park without the hassle of traffic and parking. Advanced tickets are cheaper than day-of tickets.

View of balloons in the sky at Balloon Festival in Albuquerque

RV Reservations

Although tickets for the Balloon Fiesta go on sale in April, you’ll be too late if you wait until then to book an RV site. These sites generally sell out in January when they first become available.

Tent camping sites are $35 per night. Dry camping sites for RVs range from $50 to $115 per night, depending on the location. RV electrical hookup sites are available for $100 to $250 per night. 

For many RVers, the high price is worth it to enjoy balloons launching up close as they tend to rise above the campgrounds and even soar right over the RVs.

Balloon Rides

Rainbow Riders is the official balloon ride company of the Balloon Fiesta. The Balloon Fiesta Mass Ascension Balloon Ride and the Balloon Fiesta Sunset Balloon Ride last about an hour. 

Flight availability for the sunset ride will open up in September, right before the Balloon Festival in Albuquerque. You can call Rainbow Riders anytime to get more information and pricing.

View of a person in a balloon ride at Balloon Festival in Albuquerque

Entertainment

The main stage hosts bands and children’s acts throughout the nine-day event. Roving entertainment and interactive education are also available at the Balloon Discovery Center.

Here guests can enjoy interactive exhibits illustrating the principles of lighter-than-air flight, the sport’s history, and the safety aspects of ballooning.

On the second Saturday of the Balloon Fiesta, the Music Fiesta starts at 1:00 p.m. and runs through the evening. This event requires an additional ticket. Popular entertainers like Darius Rucker, Old Dominion, Chris Young, and the Band Perry have performed here.

Photo Contest

Every year, the Balloon Fiesta hosts the Cindy Petrehn Memorial Photo Contest. There’s a grand prize winner, children’s winners, a digital art winner, and winners for various events throughout the Balloon Fiesta. 

This is a fun way for attendees to share their talents or just share the glee on their children’s faces.

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Ballooning Information

It’s important to know that the balloons don’t lift off throughout the day. There are certain times when there are launches. For example, there’s always a Dawn Patrol Show at sunrise and an AfterGlow Show at sunset (weather permitting).

During the day, there are other activities like chainsaw carving competitions and skydiving entertainment. Vendors are also there from sun up to sun down.

View of balloons in the sky at Balloon Festival in Albuquerque

Transportation Services 

If you want to avoid the traffic nightmare in Albuquerque every year, arrive at the park before sunrise or take the shuttle services. Traffic will always be problematic when thousands of people congregate in one location. You could also end up parking a long way away from the field.

The Park and Ride tickets mentioned earlier are a great option to avoid congestion. Although you have to pay a fee, it’s well worth the price. A Park and Ride ticket includes round-trip transportation to and from Balloon Fiesta Park, an expedited route to bypass heavy traffic, and admission to the Balloon Fiesta event. 

You can catch a ride at Cottonwood Mall, Coronado Center, or Hoffmantown Church. Advanced ticket purchases are cheaper than day-of purchases and cost $22 per adult, $20 per senior, and $10 per child. Children 5 and under are free.

Tips for Attending the Balloon Festival in Albuquerque

Because so many visitors attend Balloon Festival Albuquerque, it’s important to follow these tips to make your visit enjoyable and comfortable.

This is not an event where you want to just “wing it.” Be prepared so you can make your plans early.

Book In Advance 

As already mentioned, RV sites will sell out in January. There’s a waitlist, so make sure to join it if you don’t get a site on your first try. People will cancel throughout the year. 

Remember, reservations begin in January, and the event isn’t until October. Things change. But for the best opportunity to get an RV site, be online on the day reservations open.

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Watch From Afar as Well as Up Close

Make sure to spend one morning watching from your RV. The sight of the balloons soaring from afar is enchanting. Various colors and shapes fill the sky for a beautiful spectacle. But also make sure to go to the launch field to see the balloons up close. 

You can actually walk around the launch field and talk with the pilots. You can feel the heat of the flames when they get ready to launch. It’s a surreal experience.

View of balloons in the sky at Balloon Festival in Albuquerque

Layer Your Clothes

In the mornings and evenings, it can be very cold. Temperatures in Albuquerque in October can range from the 30s and 40s to the 70s and 80s. Make sure to dress in layers. You’ll feel miserable if you don’t. 

Grab the winter coat, gloves, scarf, and toboggan when you head out at 3:00 a.m. to catch the shuttle service. But wear additional layers underneath and shed the winter wear by lunchtime.

Join the Fun at the Balloon Festival in Albuquerque

The International Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque is a worthy bucket list item. To witness hundreds of balloons launching into the dark sky is mesmerizing. The glow of fire against the depth of the sky creates a magical atmosphere unlike anywhere else. 

So if you’ve never made plans to visit Albuquerque in October for the Balloon Fiesta, consider doing so. You won’t regret it!

Have you ever been one of the 80,000 guests at Balloon Fiesta Park?

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