Mom Knows Best : Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta Insider Tips

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta Insider Tips

Attending the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta? Check out these tips!

   I have attended the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta many times. It is one of the perks of living in New Mexico. My family has lived here for 20 years and we still love seeing all the hot air balloons float in the sky. The hot air balloons can be in the sky year-round but only once a year over 500 balloons grace the sky for nine days. This yearly event still gets my family excited and we try to attend at least one event during this time. Since this event has over one million people attending, it can be crowded and traffic can be bad but trust me this event is worth it all to be able to see the hot air balloons close up and in the sky. I am going to share some tips with you that will help you enjoy this event. The event website also has a lot of great information.

Places to stay
Hotels tend to fill up quickly for this event so I recommend making reservations way in advance. Other places to stay are campgrounds, bed & breakfast, and RV parks to name a few. If you have an RV, I highly recommend staying in the RV park near the Balloon Fiesta Park as then you can walk or bike to the event and avoid traffic. Just like hotels the RV park fills up quickly. For more information visit this link.

Best days to attend
There are better days/times to attend the Balloon Fiesta if you want to see more hot air balloons and special shape balloons. To get the full experience of this wonderful event, I recommend attending at least one morning event and one evening event. The morning events have all the balloons ascending into the sky while the evening events have balloon glows. A balloon glow is a very unique experience in which the hot air balloons stay on the ground but are filled with light from the glow of the propane. The best days to attend are the weekends and Thursday and Friday. While there are events on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, these days will have fewer balloons going up. If you don’t like crowds but want to see balloons these are the better days to attend. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday only have morning events.

Getting to the Balloon Fiesta Park
There are many ways to get to the Balloon Fiesta event. If you don’t want to deal with traffic, the Park and Ride option is a good one and can save you money. but it can be pricey for families with kids older than 6 years. There are many locations around Albuquerque to park and board a bus that will take you to the event. You may not have to deal with traffic but you will deal with long lines after the event to board the bus back to your car. If you decide to drive there are many ways to get to the event, depend on your location. You can even bike to the event and avoid the 15.00 parking fee. This link has a lot of info about biking to the balloon fiesta. Click Here

Best time to leave for the event
Leaving early for the Balloon Fiesta is always best. You will not avoid traffic but it will mean less time in the traffic. I recommend getting to the Balloon Fiesta park early and spend the time eating or exploring the many booths rather than spending that time in traffic. For me that may mean getting up super early in the morning but I would rather spend my time walking around the event visiting booths/ eating than in traffic. For the morning events, I leave my house at 4-4:30 Am and 3- 3:30 pm for the evening events. By leaving this early, I usually get a better parking spot and only have to spend 30 minutes in bumper to bumper traffic vs 1- 1 ½ hours.  Getting there early also allows you more time to see the pilots set up their balloons.

What to bring
So what does one need to bring to the Balloon Fiesta? Bring a device to take pictures as you will want to take lots of them. Other items that I like to bring are a backpack, money, snacks, water, sunglasses, sunscreen, pocket pack of tissues, hand sanitizer or hand wipes, and coffee. The hand wipes are great for after using the porta potty and tissues are great for that nose that tends to drip in the cold weather. Leave the camping chairs at home as this is an event that is more fun walking around to see all the balloons. A stroller or a wagon is a must for those with young kids as this place is crowded. If you are able to carry the kids in a backpack carrier, that is even better so you don’t have to try and push a stroller through crowds. When my kids were young, I did use a stroller as I did not want them to get lost in the crowds and I loved that I could carry all my things in the basket.

How to dress
Dress in layers as the morning will be chilly but once that sun comes out it will be so much warmer. I like to wear pants, a t-shirt, sweatshirt, and a fleece jacket along with a hat and gloves. I often find that by 8 am, I have taken off the coat and sweatshirt as it gets warm here once the sun comes out. Also, wear comfortable shoes as you will be doing lots of walking. This is an event in which you can get up close to the balloons and you will want to walk around to see all of the balloons.

Saving money
Yes, there are always ways to save money at the Balloon Fiesta. The best way to save money is by bringing your own food and drink. While you can't bring in any glass containers or large coolers, you can bring in food and drinks. I like to make my coffee and a breakfast burrito at home and then eat them while watching the balloons. You can also get food cheaper outside of the park at the many restaurants in Albuquerque. There is just something about breakfast burritos and coffee that make the balloon fiesta special. There are many places inside the Balloon Fiesta that sell breakfast burritos and you will be craving one so if you want to save money bring one with you. Bring a bottle of water too as there are no water fountains in the park. You will get thirsty as this is the desert, so save money and bring your water so you don’t have to buy a drink in the park. Also, bring some snacks as all that walking will make you hungry.

Best places to get a bite
If you want to try some of the delicious food that the event has to offer, expect long lines to buy food. The event has plenty of variety of food from breakfast burritos, pizza, burgers, to doughnuts and ice cream. You can even get fried alligator as my oldest son enjoyed. The breakfast burritos and Pinon coffee are must-have items. While the Pinon coffee is only sold at a couple of booths, there are many booths that sell the breakfast burritos and I don’t have a favorite. If you want less of a wait for food then walk north towards the end of the food booths as lines tend to be shorter there.

What to see beyond balloons
The Balloon Fiesta is more than hot air balloons. The event has lots of booths to pick up information, samples, and play games. My boys love the Cannon booth as they get their picture taken in a hot air balloon. They also love the Bimbo booth as they get to spin a wheel to win a snack item. There is also plenty of booths that sell food and other merchandise like balloon fiesta souvenirs, hats, t-shirts, and even alpaca blankets. If you walk north to the end of the vendor row, you will find a arts and craft tent, a kids discovery tent, and a chainsaw wood carving event. The kid’s discovery tent is also a great place for grownups to learn and have fun. In this tent, you can learn all about how a hot air balloon is made. You can also learn about how the pilots fly the balloons and you can try a hot air balloon simulator. This tent also teaches kids about rockets and spaceships thanks to volunteers from NASA.

If you want more information the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta then visit their official website or some of the other posts that I have written over the years. Feel free to ask me questions in the comment section and I will try my best to answer your question.


  1. Balloon festival is on my bucketlist todo this year! Sounds like fun time in Alburquerque!

  2. Balloon festival is also on my bucketlist todo this year! Sounds like fun time in Albuquerque!

  3. there is a balloon fest near us as well. I have been thinking about going this summer. Your post has assured me it is something I definitely want to see

  4. I've never been to a balloon festival but I sure want to go. My daughter has photos of her and my grand daughter riding in one and it looks like so much fun.

  5. What a fun experience! Our family would really enjoy watching all of the stunning hot air balloons, plus the food sounds like a yummy bonus.

  6. Great tips! It must have been fun to attend a balloon fiesta. So colorful and exciting!

  7. I have always wanted to see the balloons. This looks like such a blast.

  8. I have always wanted to go to this! I live in Arizona so I just need to take a trip this year to the Balloon Fest.

  9. I am so jealous! That must have been so much fun.

  10. I moved to Albuquerque about 2 years ago and was able to attend my second Balloon Fiesta last year. It is such an incredible experience! During that week, I see hundreds of balloons in the sky on my way to work. It's magical <3

  11. I really wish I was the one having all the fun now, looks so magical and exciting ✨


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