Travel Tips

8 Tips for Visiting the Albuquerque Balloon Festival

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A few years ago I finally made it out to the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta and had an amazing time! I did pretty well on my first visit, but there were some things I wish I had known in advance! Here are eight quick tips to help you get the most out of your experience.

1. Keep your schedule flexible

The event schedule is entirely dependent on the weather and the Mass Ascension (when 500+ hot air balloons go up) is worth seeing! To maximize the chance you’ll see the balloons at their best, give yourself as many days there as possible and don’t make schedule any other non-refundable activities. My two day stay didn’t turn out quite like I’d hoped and I wound up watching the balloons go up on my way to the airport.

2. Buy tickets in advance to save time and money

Nothing deflates excitement at the start of your day like standing in a long line. Buy your tickets online to avoid waiting at the entrance. If you’re taking  the Park & Ride, you’ll save up to $7-$8 a person purchasing in advance, online tickets are $15 for adults, $22 when bought onsite.

3. Take the Park & Ride shuttle to avoid parking delays

I always love the freedom of my own vehicle — able to leave whenever I want — but I also hate wasting a half hour or more getting out of a crowded parking lot. If you also hate traffic or are traveling in a small group, the Park & Ride is a great option (it becomes a lot more expensive than parking when you have more than a few people)! It picks up from 5 convenient locations (that have a lot of parking) around town.

4. Plan to be there early or late

All the best stuff (and by that I mean the most beautiful, breathtaking events) happen at sunrise or sunset. If you’re already making the effort to get there, make a little extra effort to wake up early or stay late and get the full experience.

5. Bring healthy snacks or indulge in strangely good fried foods

They have the typical array of “fair foods”, and some not so typical. Most of them yummy and greasy and fried. If you’re up for the adventure, try the Grilled Cheese Donut with Bacon (and green chile). If that kind of fare isn’t your thing, bring some healthy snacks along and have a picnic out by the balloon field.

6. Dress warmly and wear close-toed shoes

It might be warm during the day, but mornings and evenings can be quite chilly. Wear layers and consider bringing a scarf and/or hat in case you need extra warmth. And wear close-toed shoes. Not just for warmth, but because the grass is quite dewy in the morning and your feet will get soaked walking around.

7. Get photography tips

If you have a new smart phone, the camera is probably quite capable of taking awesome photos without your interference. But if you want to make sure you’re getting the most amazing pictures possible (and there will be many) take a few minutes in advance to learn all your settings. Or stop by the Canon tent to get onsite tips.

8. Borrow a camera onsite or get a free cleaning

I think this is SO cool! Not only is the Canon tent offering photography tips, they’ll also let you borrow a camera and lens for free or clean and check your own camera!

Full Disclosure: I may receive affiliate credit from links in this post or on this site which will help fund my travels. Thank you for your support!

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