Friday, October 16, 2009

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta should be on everyone's "To Do At Least Once Before I Die" list! Usually the Fiesta is held the first week of October in New Mexico every year. Some people may question waking up before the crack of dawn and driving to this huge "balloon field" to arrive at 5am on a crisp October morning to watch a bunch of hot air balloons - but it truly is spectacular.

Not only do you get to see the most hot air balloons up in the air at one time, you get to watch the owners pull them out of the vans, lay them out on the ground, connect the baskets, fire up the tanks, fill the balloon with air and take off. The different forms the balloons take are amazing - from animals, to products (like Jack Daniels bottles), to houses, and even chili peppers. Oh, and did I mention you can be literally inches away from all this action?

Watching it all makes you have one of those moments when it's hard to believe all these people came together to do this one thing at the same time...and how cool is that? There's this nervous excitement in the air as everyone waits for the final weather call and thumbs up to launch. And then before you know it - one after the other they go up - everywhere you look there are balloons. Even as I left the field and drove away, I was still snapping pictures as the balloons spread across the city and off into the hills.

That's me on the bottom left, by the way...

Here's some background on the Fiesta:

Albuquerque, New Mexico is the premier ballooning city due to the crystal skies, perfect October climate and a phenomenon called the "Albuquerque Box." With a combination of weather patterns and geographic landscape, the box allows balloonists to control and even retrace their adventure.

Balloon Fiesta Park covers over 200 acres and is filled with balloons and vendors selling everything from traditional New Mexican food to Balloon memorabilia. Each year balloons come from around the world to participate in the event and news coverage originates from more than 50 countries. It has become the most photographed event in the world.

Since the first Balloon Fiesta in 1972, media representing over 50 nations have covered this newsworthy event. Coverage has included live satellite broadcasts to Japan, television documentaries prepared by Great Britain, West Germany, the Netherlands and France, television specials on ESPN, Arts & Entertainment, the Public Broadcasting Service, and the Travel Channel.

If you decide to go to next years Fiesta - you've got to check out what the area has to offer - other than the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta...

There are winery's where they make local wines including prickly pear wine and hiking and other sites to see like the Acoma Pueblos, also known as Sky City. Sante Fe is also a cool city and is within driving distance. The areas really has lots to offer and you won't be bored! I'll do another post on the other things I discovered in the area (one my spare time).

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