5 Tips for Attending the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

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A few observations from a first timer. In spite of my “wish I had known’s”, next time (and there will be a next time since the balloons never went up) I will be prepared.

1. If flying, don’t book late night flights into Albuquerque.

My flight was delayed getting in by 2 hours and didn’t get in until 1AM, which meant several things. The rental car companies close around then, so unless you’re lucky, you could wind up stranded without a car. Also, the balloon events start at 6AM, which leaves you only a few hours to rest if you have plans the next day.

2. Maximize your chance to see the balloons go up and plan to be in town an entire weekend during the Fiesta.

It makes complete sense, it just hadn’t occurred to me. The Mass Ascension of 500 hot air balloons going up is completely dependent on weather. Leave yourself with only one weekend morning to see them, like I did, and there’s a good chance your hopes will be deflated. Also note that the balloons don’t mass ascend most weekdays.

Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta 2014 Mass Inflation

3. Wear comfortable, closed toe shoes in the morning.

I needed to dress for my whole day (which was got up in the 80’s), which meant a long dress. But I was perfectly warm early morning in with the addition of long johns underneath, trench coat, and delightfully thin Tilo scarf.

The only part of me that was cold were my feet, which had to make due in my favorite Teva Cabrillo Wedge site-seeing sandals since I didn’t have room to pack sneakers or an extra pair of boots suitable for the grassy field.

4. Take the Park & Ride to the Fiesta if possible to save time and money.

I waffled back and forth, weighing not having to drive myself at 5AM vs having the autonomy of being able to leave whenever I wanted and head straight to Santa Fe without backtracking.

So glad I took the shuttle bus! It wound up a 5 minute walk from my hotel. Even at the 5:45 crush I boarded in 20 minutes and was at the park by 6:30. The line into the parking lots was backed up a long ways. Plus it was only $4 more than admission for a round trip.

On the way back it took even less time and I still would have been trying to exit the parking lot by the time I got back to my hotel.

So if you’re’ staying near one of the pick up spots, I highly recommend taking it and book your ticket online at least 6 hours ahead of time to save $8 per person.

5. Save rental car fees by using Uber or the airport shuttle on your last night.

It’s about $100 a day to rent a car during the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta, so if you have the time it actually winds up cheaper to only book the car for the days you actually need it. Don’t need a car your last night in town? Drop it off and take Uber ($15-$20) or the Sunport Airport Shuttle ($11) back to your downtown hotel and then to the airport the next day and save yourself ~$$60-75.


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Living for the little (and big things) that make life so fun, especially mistake deals and crazy last minute weekend mileage runs across the world. www.twitter.com/klatravel


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  2. Tom

    October 6, 2014 at 4:05 pm

    My wife an I where there for the 1st time Saturday morning as well yeah our hopes were deflated as with Sat eve night glow that was too windy also. We’ll be back again sometime it was cool what we saw, off to Santa Fe today, I think I saw you leaving the Hyatt lounge this morning as we were entering.

    • Keri Anderson

      October 6, 2014 at 4:11 pm

      That was me! I wish I’d known and I could have stopped to say hi. Did you get to try the beef enchiladas?

  3. Tom

    October 6, 2014 at 4:27 pm

    Yes I did they were pretty good. I couldn’t remember what blog I read that said they were going to be here. Just unfortunate timing this time as winds were fine for the Sat morning launch an last night’s glow.

  4. Steven

    October 6, 2014 at 5:59 pm

    Funny I was there this weekend as well, would have liked to say HI.

  5. Christine

    October 31, 2015 at 11:39 pm

    Where did you stay that you were able to walk to the park and ride? Is there a park & ride schedule? I can’t imagine that there is only one bus at a certain time. Could you reply to me? I justed stumbled over your page.

    • Keri Anderson

      November 1, 2015 at 12:17 am

      I was at the Hyatt Place near the mall 🙂

  6. barbara

    March 12, 2016 at 3:56 pm

    Can any of you recommend a hotel to stay at that is close to Balloon Festival so we would not have to rent a car, just take public transportation to other tourist attractions?


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