The breakfast burritos are warm. The air is crisp. And the coffee is strong enough to keep everyone awake for the Dawn Patrol. Saturday, Oct. 1, through Sunday, Oct. 9, hot-air balloon pilots will take to the skies for Albuquerque's most iconic event.
In addition to New Mexican breakfast staples, this year’s concessions have a decidedly state-fair bent—bacon dipped in chocolate and sausage on a stick dipped in pancake batter. And while eating foods dipped in other foods, you can watch up to 10 new balloons join more than 100 Special Shapes, including a Kiwi bird from New Zealand and a giant blue shark from Brazil.
Balloon Fiesta Park is at 4401 Alameda NE, one mile west of 1-25.
Tickets: Call (888) 422-7277 or visit balloonfiesta.com to get passes ahead of time. Each $8 advance ticket includes a complimentary entrance to the Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum. Five-packs of advance tickets are also available for $35.
Or wait in line and pay $6 per person at the gate. Fiesta admission is always free to children under 12.
Parking: Onsite parking is $10.
If you’d rather not battle over parking spaces, a Park & Ride shuttle brings passengers from remote lots to the field on Thursday, Friday, Saturdays and Sundays. Park & Ride tickets include the shuttle service and fiesta admission.
Advance passes are $12 for adults, $6 for children ages 6 to 12, at balloonfiesta.com or the Balloon Fiesta Gift Shop.
Day-of passes will cost you $20 for adults, $10 for children ages 6 to 12. Be forewarned: The Park & Ride attendants do not accept cash. Bring a credit card.
Hitch a ride at:
• Hoffmantown Church 8888 Harper NE, northeast lot
• Cliff’s Amusement Park 4800 Osuna NE
• Coronado Mall 6600 Menaul NE, southwest lot
• Intel 1600 Rio Rancho Boulevard SE / Highway 528, southern lot
• Sagebrush Community Church 6440 Coors NW
(no service Saturday evenings or Sunday mornings)
• Sandia Area Federal Credit Union 6410 Coors NW, just west of Sagebrush
(Saturday evenings and Sunday mornings only)
Biking: For the intrepid traveler, a free bike valet will provide a safe and secure location for bicycles throughout the fiesta. Balloon Fiesta Park lies just east of the North Division Trail, and cyclists are encouraged to wear helmets and lights if traveling in the dark.
More information: Glean everything from GPS coordinates to when the Glowdeo starts by calling 821-1000 (the area code for Albuquerque and Santa Fe is 505) or toll-free (888) 422-7277, or visit balloonfiesta.com.