Okay, so my brother was in town earlier this month, and what do you do with visitors to Albuquerque in the beginning of October? Balloon Fiesta. In an annual tradition that dates back to 1972, balloonists from all over the world have been descending on our little city in the desert. From what I understand it’s something about the wind currents, which allow a balloonist to take off and then come back and land not far from their original site.
I have to admit, when we moved here last year I was skeptical, I mean isn’t it really just a bunch of hot air balloons lifting to the sky? But on my morning bike rides to work I couldn’t help but get excited and caught up with the sight of hot air balloons floating over and beyond the city.
And when we brought my parents to last year’s balloon fiesta, my budding enchantment only deepened.
Maybe it’s the sounds: the roar of fires blasting balloons up into the air, and the chatting of nearby admirers. Maybe it’s the smells: burning propane, green chili burritos, frying donuts, and hot chocolate. Maybe it’s the presence of the sun making its way over the horizon, as we sipped said hot chocolate. I’m not an early morning riser, and thought getting up at the crack of dawn might be more torture than fun, but I was wrong. The early morning transition to light only added to the ambiance.
Maybe it’s Albuquerque’s endless blue sky filled with balloons of all different shapes and sizes. There’s Dark Vader, monkeys, kangaroos, giant cows, you name it, but my favorite is still the traditional hot air balloon. Maybe that comes from my childhood memories of one of my favorite books series, The Wonderful World of Oz. And the atmosphere certainly lends itself to that feeling of childlike wonder. It’s hard to come to balloon fiesta and not be as excited as the giggling children all around you.
Maybe the magic is in the simple things. One minute the German balloonist is standing there on the ground next to year, the next he’s hopping into an inflating balloon, and waving goodbye as his basket slowly soars over your head. It’s an international celebration of the simple things in life, like watching the world below from a floating basket in the sky, and watching floating baskets in the sky from the world below.
Some say it’s the most widely photographed event in the world. This year, I forgot to charge my camera battery (whoops). So, the pictures posted here are mostly last years balloon fiesta (hi Mom and Dad) but just as beautiful.
Balloon Fiesta is crowded! On the weekends it can take hours to park, even if you leave at 5:30 AM. Last year we took the train, then the shuttle, and that took forever. But this year we headed up on a Wednesday morning, pulled right up, parked and got in at about 6:45 (AM, that is.) There is a “night glow” event, where the balloons stay tethered to the ground with their fires glowing, and it’s supposed to be beautiful. And I’ll be sure to fit that one into my schedule next year!
For more information you can check out their website.