Albuquerque Hot Air Balloon Fiesta

I live to explore. I get such a thrill from being somewhere new and exploring the area, events, foods and breathing in the atmosphere. It makes me feel alive, it makes me appreciate this planet and the people in it. I never, ever thought that I would at one point in my life find myself living in New Mexico, but I did, and I loved how much there was to explore. Who knew that the world’s largest hot air balloon festival was held every year in Albuquerque, NM?

I am lucky to share my passion for exploring with my amazing hubby Derrick and he was equally excited to check out The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. Neither one of us has a particular interest in or affinity for ballooning but as an experience and a photo op this seemed too good to pass up.

Getting There from Santa Fe

From everyone we talked to, the message was clear: don’t drive. The traffic would be snail pace, so we opted for the Railrunner Express, a commuter rail system connecting Albuquerque and Santa Fe. The train was extremely convenient, clean and nice. From the station we were guided straight to a shuttle bus that took us directly to the launch field. It couldn’t have been any easier!

The Photo Op That Almost Didn’t Happen

We got to the field in good time before the 7 am Mass Ascension we were aiming to capture. The weather was not the greatest: it was pretty grey and cold for early October and also windy. That didn’t seem to be a deterrent though- the massive field was full of people. Apparently this event can attract up to 100,000 spectators per day! The size of the field is so large that it doesn’t feel chaotic.

7 am came and went and nothing happened. The mass ascension came close to getting canceled all together for the morning, due to the strong winds. It was postponed multiple times while people were just walking around the field, trying to stay warm, and some of the balloonists even lost faith and started to pack up to leave. But finally, after well over an hour of delay, the green light was given. Luckily, since apparently there are no refunds for tickets in case of a weather-related cancellation of the event… And it was totally worth the wait!

How Does a Hot Air Balloon Take Off?

I saw it all around me first hand. It was such a thrill to be right there in the mix and see up close the whole process of getting a hot air balloon up in the air. Then watching so many balloons flying against the cloudy grey sky is something I doubt I’ll never see again. Yes, a beautiful blue sky and some sunshine would have been better but I’ll take what I can get- it was wonderful, magical and unique nonetheless. A memorable experience!

All images © 2014-2017 Pauliina Parris. // All rights reserved.