Vote for The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta
The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is currently ranked #2 in the USA Today 10 Best Reader’s Choice Awards for Best Cultural Festival. Readers can vote for The International Balloon Fiesta (or their other chosen festival), once a day, every day, until Monday, April 13 at noon ET.
What is the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta (which I lovingly refer to as just the “Balloon Fiesta”)?
For nine days each October colorful “upside down ornaments” dot the big, blue Albuquerque skies during the annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. The world’s largest ballooning event welcomes some 500 balloon teams from two dozen countries to the Southwest city, with the headlining event being the weekend mass ascension, when hundreds of balloons take to the sky together. Popular events like the Special Shapes Rodeo and Balloon Glows are complemented by a juried art show, local food trucks and live music.
The Balloon Fiesta definitely gets my vote. It’s one of my favourite events in the WHOLE WORLD!
The Balloon Fiesta – Favourite Memories
You see, I grew up in the Albuquerque area, living there until I was 14. My birthday is October 4, my sister’s birthday is October 5th, and at that time I had 4 cousins who were also born on October 4. (There are 3 more cousins in my family who also share that birthday with me, now!) Plus, I have no fewer than 20 family birthdays between in October, and about 10 friends who are my birthday buddies, all celebrating together on October 4th, and handfuls of friends with birthdays on other days in early October.
In the middle of all those October birthdays, every year, much to my delight, The Balloon Fiesta happened.
It was family tradition to drive into Albuquerque to watch the hot-air balloons fly, and then have breakfast at Village Inn or somewhere close.
My tummy would be full of butterflies with the excitement of the birthdays, and the sky would be FULL of stunning hot-air balloons. It was truly magical.
Often we’d meet up with birthday cousins and other family members along the way, or at least for breakfast. It was like a HUGE party, and it’s one of my favourite memories from growing up.
The Balloon Fiesta is My Birthday Party!
The balloons made for such a great birthday experience. They were MINE, and I LOVED THEM!
I was 9 years old (yes 9!) before I realized that the Balloon Fiesta was NOT for my birthday.
Until then, I had honestly and truly believed that the Ballon Fiesta was for me and my birthday buddies and all the other birthdays in early October!! I thought it was OURS, for celebrating all of us!
I remember seeing an advertisement for the Balloon Fiesta on TV that year before my birthday. “Balloon pilots and enthusiasts come from all over the world to compete, fly, and enjoy the beautiful hot air balloons. The world’s premiere ballooning event! Balloon Rides, Concession, Pin Swaps, Arts & Crafts. Get your general admission tickets for the daily Mass Ascensions today!”
… from all over the world?
This is an event, like the fair – it’s not just our party.
I’d never been to the launch field, to the actual Balloon Park where all the balloons took off from. We just drove around and watched the balloons as they took over the sky above Albuquerque. They are almost literally EVERYWHERE! You can’t miss them. Of course I noticed that other people enjoyed OUR balloons, but I had no idea that the balloons weren’t ours…
I do remember feeling really silly about it all at first. I guess it was like when you find out about the tooth fairy or the Easter bunny. I tried not to cry, and I’m still not sure if my family noticed how sad I was, but I was really pretty bummed about it.
Thankfully, I was seriously hooked on the magic of the balloons. How could I not be? In my 9-year-old mind, I decided that they could really still be MY balloons, even if the world thought that the balloons belonged to everyone.
I have still yet to make it right down onto the actual Balloon Launch Field. (I hear that it’s fantastic to be on the ground with the balloons when they launch in wave after wave during a Mass Ascension, and to walk between the warm tethered balloons in the chill fall night during a Balloon Glow.) Even so, the Balloon Fiesta will always hold a very very special place in my heart.
I’ll definitely be daily casting my vote for the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta as the Best Cultural Festival in the USA.
(No, I’m NOT voting for the other New Mexico festival on the top 10 list – the Roswell UFO Festival. LOL!)