11 Things You Didn’t Know About The Balloon Fiesta

Image of the Creamland cow at the balloon fiesta

It’s that time of year again the balloons are going up this morning and that means the Balloon Fiesta is here and the weather is getting colder. The Balloon Fiesta draws attention for locals and many tourists that travel from around the world to attend the Balloon Fiesta. We visited with our very own Tom McConnell, pilot of the New Mexico Zia Balloon about some things you may or may not know about Balloon Fiesta. Here are some fun facts and things you should know about Balloon Fiesta.

  • 1. Most Photographed Event in the World – With all the shapes and colors you’re sure to get great pictures, so don’t forget your camera if you head out to the park.
  • 2. Largest Balloon Event in the World – What started as a very small balloon event with 13 balloons in 1972 at Coronado Mall, has become the largest balloon event with about 600 balloons each year and close to 1,000 pilots. In the year 2000 the Balloon Fiesta had 1,000 balloons registered. However, this many balloons makes it challenging to launch and navigate for pilots.
  • 3. Over 50 Countries Represented – Balloon enthusiasts from around the world will be here in our great city. Balloon pilots from and tourists will flock to Albuquerque for a week of ballooning.
  • 4. Excellent Flying Conditions – The balloon fiesta has grown to the one of the largest balloon events in the world. Albuquerque’s ideal wind conditioning and fall temperatures make it an ideal place to host this event. Balloon pilots look for ideal conditions called the “box”. The box is when a balloon can take off at low altitudes then drift south then they increase their altitude and drift north.
  • 5. Typical Balloon Flight Time – A typical flight can be 45 minutes to 2 hours. But flight time is really up to the pilot and depending on wind conditions. A typical balloon will hold 40 Gallons of propane which will last for up to 2 hours of flight time.
  • 6. Watch Out For Balloons Landing – During Balloon Fiesta week you will see balloons all over the city. If you see a balloon landing towards you never get in front of it. It can be difficult to control the momentum of the balloon as it is coming down. If you see a balloon coming towards you to land definitely pull over if you’re in a vehicle or get out of the way. If you want to help the balloon crew land the balloon approach it from behind.
  • 7. Number of Passengers – In a typical balloon there is usually room for 2 riders and the pilot. Specialty balloons may have bigger gondolas to hold more people.
  • 8. Balloon Weight – A typical balloon can weigh approximately 650 lbs which includes the envelope, gondola, and fuel. Total weight with passengers can be 1,200 – 1,500 lbs. A special shapes balloon can weigh up to a ton.
  • 9. Cost of a Balloon – A typical plain balloon can run approximately $25,000. However, a special shape balloon can run up to $200,000 or more.
  • 10. Balloon Flight Height – Hot air balloons have flown to over 30,000 feet above, but generally don’t go higher than about 12,000 feet due to the requirement for supplemental oxygen above that height.
  • 11. Camp at Balloon Fiesta Park – If you like the idea of heading out to the park in the early hours for mass ascension but don’t want to fight traffic at 4 o’clock in the morning? There is an RV park located onsite at balloon fiesta park. This isn’t a campground it is for RVs only! But does make for a great way to experience Balloon Fiesta and avoid traffic. But make sure to make a reservation early, the spots fill up fast.

Balloon Fiesta is an amazing attraction that has become an annual tradition in Albuquerque. With expanded events throughout the week, including Music Fiesta, there’s something for everyone to enjoy from locals to tourists alike. If you’re looking to experience Balloon Fiesta without going to the park check out our list of best places to view the balloons. We know that Balloon Fiesta always signals the change in weather. Now that those cooler days and nights are upon us it’s time to get your furnace ready for winter. As you get your home ready for winter you can count on TLC’s expert heating repairmen to be here for you if you need us.