For nine days in October, the New Mexico skies are painted as hundreds of balloons lift off from Albuquerque's Balloon Fiesta Park. Nothing rivals the power of Mass Ascension on crisp early mornings as these graceful giants leave the ground to take their place in the cerulean desert sky. For ballooning fans worldwide, the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is a pilgrimage.
From its modest beginnings in 1972 with 13 balloons launching from a shopping mall parking lot, the Balloon Fiesta has grown to multiple events launching year-round at the custom-designed, 365-acre Balloon Fiesta Park. Our signature event remains Balloon Fiesta—which, with 700 balloons, is the largest ballooning event on earth, the most photographed event on earth, and the largest annual international event held in the United States.
Imagine 54 football fields, all put together. That’s the size of Balloon Fiesta Park’s 78-acre launch field! And at this Park’s “playing field,” there are no losing teams and no viewing stands. Guests walk the field and are part of the action. You can actually walk around among the balloons as they are being filled with hot air, and many times, you will be able to simply join in the action as the team stretches the balloons out, pulls and organizes the ropes, fires the burners and fills their balloon with hot air. Sometimes, if you help enough, you'll even get a free ride.
But at night is when the balloon festival is at its most beautiful. At least one evening of the event, weather permitting, the launch will be at sunset...
.....stretching into the night. That's when the fires inside the balloons dazzle you with the glow of magnificantly colored monsters looming overhead. And, just like in the daytime, you are more than welcome to walk among the balloons, help with the work, and be right in on the action.
This is no sport to be watched from the distance. This is a sport of which you can become a part.... and a sport which will become a part of you.
The photos for this target are from the very excellent collection of photographs by photographer, Craig Hayslip. Further information and a full color guest guide to the Albuquerque Balloon Festival can be downloaded at: Albuquerque International Balloon Festival's web site
Many thanks to Ray McClure for this target.