Your Survival Guide to the 2018 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

October 1, 2018 | By Joe Brooks

 You can feel the crispness in the air. It’s officially Fall and that means one thing- the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is at our doorstep. The annual event deemed the “most photographed event in the world” brings in hundreds of thousands of visitors to the Duke City over 9 wonderful days.

This years Balloon Fiesta begins on Saturday, October 6th with the first Mass Ascension. For those unfamiliar, the Mass Ascension is the crown jewel of the fiesta as all balloons fill the sky in one the most amazing spectacles you will ever see. It is an event not to miss.

 

2018 Balloon Fiesta Schedule

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 5

7:00am Albuquerque Aloft

(at local elementary schools)

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 6

5:45am Laser Light Show

6:00am Dawn Patrol Show

6:30am Morning Glow

6:45am Opening Ceremonies

7:00am Mass Ascension, presented by Canon

8:30am - 11:30am AIBF Chainsaw Carving Invitational

1:30pm - 5:00pm AIBF Chainsaw Carving Invitational

2:00pm America's Challenge Gas Balloon Race Inflation

6:00pm Twilight Twinkle Glow™

6:00pm America's Challenge Gas Balloon Race Launch

7:45pm Laser Light Show

8:00pm* AfterGlow™ Fireworks Show

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 7

5:45am Laser Light Show

6:00am Dawn Patrol Show

6:30am Morning Glow

7:00am Mass Ascension

8:30am - 11:30am AIBF Chainsaw Carving Invitational

9:00am Fiesta of Wheels Car Show (Located on north end of launch field)

11:00am Balloon Fiesta Pin Trading (Group Tour Tent, north end of Main Street)

1:30pm - 5:00pm AIBF Chainsaw Carving Invitational

6:00pm Balloon Glow

7:45pm Laser Light Show

8:00pm* AfterGlow™ Fireworks Show

MONDAY, OCTOBER 8

PROPANE DAY presented by Airgas, an Air Liquide company

5:45am Laser Light Show

6:00am Dawn Patrol Show

7:00am Balloons Launch

8:00am Competition Flying Begins

8:30am - 11:30am AIBF Chainsaw Carving Demonstrations

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 9

COCA-COLA DAY

5:45am Laser Light Show

6:00am Dawn Patrol Show

7:00am Balloons Launch

8:00am Competition Flying Begins

8:30am - 11:30am AIBF Chainsaw Carving Demonstrations

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 10

5:45am Laser Light Show

6:00am Dawn Patrol Show

6:30am Morning Glow

7:00am Flight of the Nations Mass Ascension

8:00am Competition Flying Begins

8:30am - 11:30am AIBF Chainsaw Carving Demonstrations

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 11

KID’S DAY presented by KOB-TV

5:45am Laser Light Show

6:00am Dawn Patrol

7:00am Special Shape Rodeo™

8:00am Competition Flying Begins

8:30am - 11:30am AIBF Chainsaw Carving Invitational

1:30pm - 5:00pm AIBF Chainsaw Carving Invitational

6:00pm Special Shape Glowdeo™

7:45pm Laser Light Show

8:00pm* AfterGlow™ Fireworks Show

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 12

5:45am Laser Light Show

6:00am Dawn Patrol

7:00am Special Shape Rodeo™

8:00am Competition Flying Begins

8:30am - 11:30am AIBF Chainsaw Carving Invitational

1:30pm - 5:00pm AIBF Chainsaw Carving Invitational

6:00pm Special Shape Glowdeo™

7:45pm Laser Light Show

8:00pm* AfterGlow™ Fireworks Show

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 13

5:45am Laser Light Show

6:00am Dawn Patrol

6:30am Morning Glow

7:00am Mass Ascension

8:30am - 11:30am AIBF Chainsaw Carving Invitational

11:00am Balloon Fiesta Pin Trading (Group Tour Tent, north end of Main Street)

1:00pm - 5:00pm Music Fiesta™

1:30pm - 5:00pm AIBF Chainsaw Carving Invitational

6:00pm Night Magic™ Glow, presented by Canon

7:45pm Laser Light Show

8:00pm* AfterGlow™ Fireworks Show

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 14

5:45am Laser Light Show

6:00am Dawn Patrol

6:30am Morning Glow

7:00am Farewell Mass Ascension

8:30am - 11:30am AIBF Chainsaw Carving Q&A

 

Click here to visit the Balloon Fiesta Schedule page

Tips

 

Weather

The early mornings can be chilly. Make sure to dress in layers and grab a coffee and breakfast burrito upon your arrival.

Check the weather the night before.

 

Getting to and from Balloon Fiesta Park

Traffic is something you will certainly have to deal with when arriving to the park. Check out page 7 in the Official Balloon Fiesta Guide for a map of routes. Other popular options are the Park ‘n Ride from various locations throughout town and the Bike Valet.

We’ve heard a lot of great things about biking to the Fiesta and how it beats braving the traffic (and cheaper). People even go from as far as Downtown via the Bosque. Here is a handy google map with different routes.

 

Other Watch Sites

For locals, and visitors too, getting to the park may not be in the cards. Luckily the balloons take over the entire landscape so there are fun vantage points to enjoy the morning views.

From the Foothills

There are some great hills to find vantage points to see a wonderful panoramic of the balloons floating across the blue sky. From here you might not get the up close and personal with the balloons, but to see the large quantity of balloons strewn across the gorgeous Albuquerque landscape.

From the Crest

We’ve heard this is an amazing spot to take it all in. Some recommend binoculars to fully enjoy. And make sure to add enough time to make the trek up there in time.

Get Close, But Not that Close

North Domingo Baca Park, north of Paseo del Norte on Wyoming comes highly recommended as an open spot with great views of the launch. Also, with the park there are great options for breakfast before or after. In doing research, there was a lot of chatter of a spot at the very northern tip of the city where Louisiana Blvd ends at the intersection of Elena (see google map).

A Friend’s Backyard

We all know that one person that has posted pictures of them drinking coffee and a balloon is flying right over their house. Invite yourself over. Offer to bring the burritos.

The Rio Grande

We don’t know anyone who’s done it, but we’ve seen the pictures! Have you considered kayaking the Rio Grande during the launch? The awesomeness of this activity may rely on the winds, but if the winds are blowing the right way you will be in a prime spot for all the balloons flying right over you and even landing in the water.

 Hopefully you find this guide useful and enjoy your time at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta! Maybe we'll see you there. Make sure to tell us your tips and tricks for braving the Fiesta.

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