The world’s largest hot air ballooning event, the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, is right around the corner, October 5-13. The signature fall event captures the amazing essence of all that is hot air ballooning from morning mass ascensions with 500+ colorful balloons floating overhead to magical evening balloon glows with music.
The 42nd annual event will bring visitors from around the world to take in the spectacle. Photographs of the Fiesta have been seen far and wide, but there’s nothing quite like experiencing it in person.
Hotel rooms are still available: www.ItsATrip.org/BalloonFiesta2013. In addition to up-close balloon views on the field, here are a few suggestions of new ways to experience the event this year.
· Float the Fiesta on the Rio Grande: Guests can canoe or kayak along the Rio Grande with Quiet Waters Paddling Adventures during the early morning as hundreds of balloons take off and float overhead. Most balloons tend to float near the river offering picture perfect views for the kayakers as they perform a “Splash & Dash” by dipping the bottom of the basket in the water.
· Bikes & Balloons: The first professionally-led bicycle tour to the Balloon Fiesta, Bikes & Balloons Tour by Routes Rentals & Tours includes bike rentals, unique photo opportunities, VIP bike parking and admission to the event that bypasses the admission lines. This year, the tour is partnering with Los Poblanos Historic Inn and Organic Farm for visits to the farm, five-star breakfasts and inn stay packages during Balloon Fiesta. Another local bicycle shop, The BikeSmith, is offering a Biking Adventure Package that includes a bike rental, self-guided tour of the Bosque Trail along the Rio Grande and a gourmet farm-to-table lunch at Old Town Farm.
· Sunrise at Sandia Golf Club: Tee times begin at 7:30am, and the Scott Miller-designed championship course provides the perfect view as the first wave of balloons takes off around 7:00am.
· Viewing parties at Gruet Winery: Sparkling wine has been a ballooning tradition since the first hot air balloonists brought Champagne along to appease the inhabitants of the region where they might land. Now, sparkling wine is part of the initiation ritual following a passenger’s first balloon ride. Located near Balloon Fiesta Park, Gruet Winery provides a prime location for viewing parties, which include a gourmet breakfast and Gruet’s renowned sparkling wine or mimosas.
· Front row views and behind-the-scenes education at the Anderson-Abruzzo International Balloon Museum – Explore the history of ballooning (historic balloons, interactive exhibits and the science behind ballooning) while watching the ascents from floor-to-ceiling windows facing the Balloon Fiesta Park launch field. The museum has extended hours during the Fiesta.