A Simple First Timer's Guide To The Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta In New Mexico

In October, we fulfilled a bucket list dream of flying in a hot air balloon! We thought there was no better place to do it than the International Balloon Fiesta. There are few things more magical than seeing hundreds of balloons take off at once! 

There are a lot of tips out there for attending this festival, but I like to keep things simple. So, here are the few, most important things you need to know before you go.


We woke up at 3:30 so that we could get to the festival ahead of traffic. We got there extra early to fly in a hot air balloon. Unfortunately, our designated balloon had a malfunction, but we got to come back in the afternoon for our balloon ride. We came back just before 3:00 pm and they let us in without charging us! 

Whether you want to see the Morning Launch or the Balloon Glow at night, get there early! It is so worth it to avoid the crowd and get a decent spot to sit. There are some picnic tables on the lawn, but not very many. And if you arrive early, you can find a spot to camp out and then go find something good to eat while you wait for the balloons to be inflated. 


And I mean warm. In the rush to pack for my family, I forgot to bring coats for my husband and me. At least, our baby boy was comfortable and cozy.

Albuquerque is in the desert but, man, does it get cold in the morning! At such a high elevation, the temperature was about 33 degrees Faranheit when we were there in mid October. 

So, my advice is to wear tons of layers and take them off as the day gets warmer. I mean, sweater, coat, beanie, scarf, all the good stuff. 

If you are going to fly in a balloon in the morning, the heat from the flames will warm you, but waiting for the launch is excrutiating when you are cold!

Bring warm clothes for the evening too. It didn't get as cold at night, but we were uncomfortable without coats.


Like I said earlier, there are only a few dozen picnic tables for thousands of patrons. A lot of people like to wander as the balloons inflate, but you can see a lot from one spot. If you want to get cozy, bring a camp chair, a warm blanket, and sit back and enjoy the show.


You have to pay cash to enter the festival. It's $10 a person, and you need $15 in cash for parking as well. Also, most vendors in the park only take cash so bring plenty. 

There are ATMs but you'll get charged for each transaction.


The food is great but it's not cheap. You can find breakfast burritos pretty much anywhere! We ate some delicious burritos at $7 each! They were delicious and filling, but not as big as you might expect for seven dollars. 

You can get a cinnamon roll anywhere too! We also found Giradellhi hot chocolate! 

Seriously, bring a crazy amount of cash!


You can find some cool trinkets at the fiesta but everything we saw was so expensive! I passed on getting a sweater I loved for $100!  You can get a T-shirt at one stand for $25-$35 dollars but my brother found one he like in Old Town Albuquerque for only $11. 

We bought a couple Christmas tree ornaments and a souvenir spoon at the Fiesta, but you can find ornaments at Old Town too.

Balloon themed gifts can be found pretty much anywhere in Albuquerque, so don't stress about having to spend top dollar for a few souvenirs at the festival.


This was a magical experience and I hope to go back one day. Both the Morning Launch and the Balloon Glow were amazing! I hope these tips will help you fully enjoy the biggest hot air balloon festival in the world!

If you had to choose, would you rather see the Morning Launch or the Night Glow? Share in the comment section below! 

Hi! My name is Kait. Follow this link to learn more about me and my blog.


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