Earth, Wind, and Flyers: Hot Air Balloons Unite

by Rebecca on August 24, 2010

in Cubicle Escapes,New Mexico

The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is the largest hot air balloon festival in the world, and it’s rumored to be the most photographed event in the world. I can certainly see why.


Growing up in Albuquerque, my family attended the festival every year. The big draw for us was Mass Ascension, when the pre-dawn air lifts hundreds of hot air balloons against the rising sun. My mom would rouse my sister and me from our beds at 4am and we’d fight traffic along with all of Albuquerque and tourists from around the world to make it to the air field by dawn. Hot chocolate and Navajo Fry Bread were our rewards for braving the darkness as we watched the balloon pilots prepare their deflated sacks for flight.

Now that I’ve lived outside New Mexico for nearly 15 years, the Balloon Fiesta holds an especially dear place in my heart. A few years ago while in college, my girlfriends and I converged on Albuquerque from all corners of the country to experience Mass Ascension. My friend’s now-husband Joe filmed us jamming out at one of the most incredible events on Earth (and that’s no hot air!). I’m the awkward tall one with dyed red hair, in case you’re wondering.

If you’re ready to think about autumn travel, I highly recommend attending the Balloon Fiesta, which runs Oct 2-10 this year. You only really need to attend one Mass Ascension and one Balloon Glow–and both happen several times throughout the Festival–so I’d recommend taking a few days to explore northern New Mexico as part of your trip. If you plan to go, let us know and we’ll hook you up with some amazing places to see and stay!

What childhood traditions do you hold dear? Do they involve flying vessels or pre-dawn wake up calls?

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