After seeing pictures of the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta, I knew I had to add it to my travel bucket list. This year, John and I, decided we would take to trips in the U.S. He would pick one and I would pick the other. He had chosen Seattle, Washington and I chose Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Yeah… New Mexico, isn’t on many people’s top choice but have you seen pictures of the hot air balloons?! If not, I’m here to convince you to add it to your list and provide helpful tips to planning your trip! You’ll see my pictures at this photo dairy and travel tale post I wrote.
10 Tips for the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta
1.Book your accommodations as early as possible!
I cannot stress how important this is!
There’s some trips you can just YOLO and some you can’t. This is one of those trip that you can’t just plan as you go because the whole city of Albuquerque is sold out during this week long event!
You can try Santa Fe, the next major city an hour away. I personally didn’t look into Santa Fe but it is an option.
Book directly to a hotel. It’s safer and if you didn’t read read about our travel accommodation disaster in the Travel Tale section of this article you might want to check it out.
2. Rent a car
I know this is the age of ridesharing with Uber/Lyft making it easier than ever before to not have to drive but I highly suggest renting a car. When we were calculating how much rides would be versus ridesharing everywhere, it was better to just rent and convenient.
We didn’t see specific lanes for drop offs so if you do rideshare you might have to walk a long way to get to the gate.
I’d also recommend exploring outside the city, specifically the White Sands National Monument, a 3.5 drive from Albuquerque. It is beautiful. Check out my article all about it.
3. Bring Cash
Cash is king and is just more convenient.
You’ll need cash when parking and the admission booths mostly only take cash. There was a line for credit but it was long and not all entrances had a credit card accepting booth. Food and artistry booths in the festival grounds are mostly cash only as well.
There are some atm machines inside the grounds but just make it easier on yourself and bring cash.
4. Be prepared for cold weather. Dress warmly.
It is COLD! If you are going to the morning session, you should be there before 6am. We all know how cold fall mornings can get.
If anything bring layers because it’s better to remove layers than to feel miserable and cold.
5. Bring a blanket.
Not only does a blanket provide warmth it can also great for laying on the ground if you want to sit and just enjoy the view.
6. Try to go to both the morning and night session.
They are very both different and unique experiences. If you can try to experience both.
But if I had to say one, I’d choose morning. The balloon fly only in the morning session.
7. Get ready to take LOTS of pictures.
Bring your camera.
If you shot on your phone, make sure you have memory spaces and an external battery or really good battery life because you will be using it the whole time.
If you shot on a camera, bring those extra batteries, memory cards and possibly a tripod.
Photography Tip: Take time lapses – They’ll look AWESOME!
Everything happens so quickly from one balloon going up to hundreds in the sky. It’s awesome to see the transformation of the field so you should try to take a timelapse.
8. Navigation apps will suck.
Unfortunately, your navigation might not help you find the fastest route.
Some of the roads were blocked and the police were just herding drivers in all sorts of directions that your navigation won’t be able to know.
9. The weather is unpredictable so be lenient with your schedule.
The event is all outside, making attendees at the mercy of mother nature. If it is possible, try to plan to see the event multiple days. If it wind conditions aren’t ideal, the balloons won’t fly.
10. Enjoy the moment!
Overall, traveling is about experiencing so don’t forgot to but down the camera and just live in the moment. Take your pictures and videos for social media but maybe post it after the balloons are up or have another person take pictures for a while.
Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta FAQ
Which weekend is better to go to the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta?
Honestly, it doesn’t really matter which weekend you go. It depends on the weather. The weather is the most unpredictable things about this event. A friend of ours went the first weekend and didn’t get to see the balloons ascend.
We went the second and days prior, the weather app said it would rain, but the night before it changed to clear skies. We were lucky.
How do I get the best pictures of the the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta?
It’s hard to tell where you can get the best pictures. I liked being in the madness of the balloons with people everywhere. If you stand outside of all the hot air balloons you can get pretty cool pictures from a far.
In my opinion you should have a photo of the balloons filling, about to take off, be right under the basket and from afar.
Photographers spend a whole week getting different angles of the fiesta, some outside of the grounds.
How much is it to go to the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta?
Parking is $15 per car, per session.
Admission is $10 per person, per session
What else is there to do in Albuquerque than the see the balloons?
- Visit Old Town
- Eat some New Mexican Food
- Add an extra day to your trip to see White Sands. HIGHLY RECOMMEND!