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The Best Days to Go to the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

The Best Days to Go to the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

It’s rare to be able to boast of a world-renowned event, especially one that claims to be the most photographed event on the planet! The Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta is full of color and beauty that everyone should strive to witness at least once in their lives. But maybe you only have a couple of days available and want to know which day is best to get the best experience possible.

The best days and times to go to the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta depend on a few factors, including the weather and the various events that change from day to day. However, if you’re only going for the main event, it’s best to go on a Saturday or Sunday morning.

The Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta is one you don’t want to miss. There are many things you need to know beforehand to make the most out of your experience. Luckily, lots of people have attended this breathtaking event and have shared their own tips!

The Best Times to Go to the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

The best day/time you visit the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta depends on the events you want to enjoy while there:

EventBest Time to Go
Main EventSaturday or Sunday; Arrive by 5:30 am
Evening EventsRight before dusk
Special Interest EventsVaries by day; check the official event website for an updated schedule of events

When to Go to the Main Event

The Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta’s main event, the mass ascension, usually happens on Saturday and Sunday mornings, as well as one weekday morning. This event is a mass launch of hot air balloons, creating a photographer’s dream.

Be sure to arrive early for the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta’s main event. It is recommended that you arrive around 5:30 am during the weekend to beat the crowds (which have reached numbers of 80,000 people), get a good parking spot, and be inside the park by 6 am. The balloons schedule their take-off at 7 am.

Balloons are launched one at a time, and there are around 500 of them. So, don’t despair if you show up late. Crowds don’t generally thin out until around 9 am. But unless you’re ready for a mid-morning nap, don’t feel as though you have to rush off. There are many exciting and interesting events to witness.

When to Go to Evening Events

There are morning events and evening events. To round out your trip, it’s best to attend at least one of each.

The evening Balloon Glow events begin just before dusk. Pilots light their burners but stay roped to the ground. There are fewer crowds in the evening, but it can be just as exciting when the balloons light up all at once.

It’s best to arrive early to the evening events as well. Grab some food from the vendors and enjoy the sun setting. And after the balloons put out their lights and it’s dark again on the field, there is usually a firework and laser light show that is worth sticking around for.

When to Go to Special Interest Events

There is more to the Fiesta than the main events. Some of those experiences include America’s Challenge Gas Balloon Race, Special Shape Balloon Event, and various flying competitions. Some of these hot air balloon pilots are quite talented. Additionally, the park offers music and sky diving performances, children’s activities, and chainsaw carving competitions.

Events change every day and from year to year, and so will their times. For a list of what to expect at the October 2-10, 2021 Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta, check out this link that covers those details in depth. Keep in mind that delays and cancellations may affect the schedule.

What if There’s Bad Weather When I Go to the Fiesta?

The balloons only fly if the weather is right for it. When attending the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta, it’s always a good idea to give yourself an extra day during the main event weekend in case of cancellations.

Apart from the crowds and parking that this international Fiesta attracts, the weather is one of the more frustrating things. Cancellations due to weather happen almost every year, affecting at least one session. In the past years, out of 14 events, an average of 2 sessions are canceled due to weather.

To avoid a wasted trip, it’s recommended that you check the weather before going. Ideal weather conditions for flying hot air balloons include clear skies, low humidity (or at least no rain), and low, stable winds. Wind speeds of 4-6 miles per hour are perfect, with the maximum speeds reaching 10 miles per hour. Additionally, if there is no wind at all, it can be hard for the pilot to land safely.

In New Mexico, in October, the weather is cool in the morning and warm during the day. The skies are mostly clear with good visibility, and the air is dry. So, for the most part, the conditions are generally good, but keep an eye on the wind speed.


While there’s no right or wrong answer as to when the best day is to attend the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta, there are a few things to keep you informed to get the best out of your experience. Think about the events, consider the weather, and bask in the inspiration of beauty and ingenuity. Give yourself a couple of days, and be sure to attend a morning session as well as an evening session. You won’t regret it!