30 September 2016

10 Tips To Make The Most Of Your Visit To The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

The excitement is high here in Albuquerque. Tomorrow is the start of The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. As the days lead up to fiesta you see more and more balloons in the sky each morning. This morning, always the Friday before the opening weekend, balloons launch from the public schools all over the city. Families gather to get up close and personal with the balloonists and to get a close up view of the balloons before they take off from each school's field. It's amazing to see from our house, balloons taking off all over the valley.

This year, for the first time, we are running a little AirBnB venture from a rental unit. We posted the opening a week ago today and by the time we woke up the next morning the reservation requests were coming in. We were solidly booked by Sunday and we are looking forward to having guests from around the country and even the Virgin Islands. We're rushing over there in just a few minutes to finalize everything. Our unit is available for rent long term or short throughout the winter so if you are thinking about a trip to ABQ for the fall, holidays or just for a quiet weekend getaway, check out our listing.

Last night I made some fun guest baskets with snacks and treats and later today I am going to wrap up a little guest book with all the info they will need for the rental as well as fun information about some of our favorite things to do in the city. We're kicking ourselves that we didn't decide to "Turo" a car and sign up to "Uber" during the next 10 days. As entrepreneurs and Balloon Fiesta enthusiasts it's a great opportunity to have some fun during this annual 10-day event.

So I thought it would be a great time to share some tips for guests coming to Balloon Fiesta. Balloon Fiesta is an early morning event. It is pretty much wrapped up for the day by 10 a.m. until the evenings when there are night activities. Let's start with my most important tip.

1. Plan to be on the field early on the weekends! Last year there were people turned away and stuck in traffic unable to get to the fiesta field during the 6-7a time window. I would suggest leaving for the park by 4:30 -4:45 a.m. depending on what part of the city you are coming from to get easier parking and relax rather than stressing about getting there, being stuck in traffic and missing out.You can relax once you get there and there is already stuff going on and food available pretty early in the morning so you can bring a blanket, and even take a nap on the grassy edges of the field before things get going. Just don't miss the experience by sitting in frustrating traffic. For more information on Ride and Share, parking and more check out the official Balloon Fiesta website.

I had local friends last year you couldn't get in and were stunned, saying this has never happened in their lives. The fiesta continues to grow each year so that problem is only likely to get more prevalent. On the last Saturday of fiesta last year it is estimated there were 120,000 on the field. That is a lot of people trying to get to one part of town. Make is easier on your group by getting there early. Here's a link to traffic and parking info.

*Added note from 2016 Fiesta: The final Saturday traffic again proved to be immense. People sitting in their cars not moving for a couple of hours. My recommendation is to leave for the park by 4:30 at the latest. You do not want to come all the way to Albuquerque to sit in your car and miss out on all the activities on the field. If you come early you can get a leisurely breakfast and hang out. The time actually goes by very quickly.

2. Dress for the weather - both warm, cold and possibly rainy. While the daytimes highs are still in the upper 70s to 80s at this time of year in Albuquerque, it is chilly in the mornings. Wear layers and anticipate being cold early in the morning. Also plan on potential rainshowers. We're at the end of our monsoon season but the possibility of an afternoon or early evening thunder shower is high. Be prepared. Here's a link to the local weather report.

3. Bring your sunscreen and sunglasses. Albuquerque is a high altitude climate and the sun is bright! Easier to get sunburned too with less atmosphere to filter the sun's rays. You might want to bring a blanket or lawn chairs to sit on as well. 

4. Be ready for good food. There are some awesome food vendors at the fiesta, take advantage all you can. For breakfast, consider the official breakfast of New Mexico - the Breakfast Burrito.

5. Anticipate traffic when leaving the park. Traffic can be much heavier than normal as crowds leave the park. It's a great time to grab some food and just sack out on the big empty field at the end of the day. No need to sit in traffic. This is a great time to visit the Balloon Museum on the same property. It is beautiful and has some great new exhibitions this year.

6. Enjoy all of Albuquerque. Since the ballooning all takes place in the early morning there are tons of activities planned throughout the city for the rest of the days and evenings. There are also great coupon books available with all sorts of discounts available at the Visit Albuquerque booth on the field at Balloon Fiesta. Here's a link to Balloon Fiesta and flavor of Albuquerque Flipagrams I made recently and you can see lots more of Albuquerque's beauty on my Instagram feed.

7. Look for the giant Albuquerque Frame - where you can also get your photo taken on your phone for free in the giant frame with the balloons in the background. At the booth are the coupon books and great staff and volunteers who can help you learn all you need to know about Albuquerque. You can also visit the Visit Albuquerque website for coupons and discounts as well as lots more information on events happening throughout the fiesta.

8. Don't miss a Balloon Glow and Special Shapes Rodeo. On several evenings during fiesta there is a glow, which means balloons cover the field and inflate, lighting the night with glowing balloons. The sound and sight is quite beautiful and there are usually fireworks shows and other events, as well as all the good food again. A fun event! The Special Shapes Rodeos are an opportunity to enjoy all the unique balloons beyond the traditional balloon shape. There are all shapes and sizes and so many fun and recognizable characters. One of my favorite activities.

9. Plan in an afternoon nap. Getting up so early in the mornings, it's likely you'll want a nap or to head to bed pretty early. Planning that into your schedule, especially if you're traveling with kids makes life a little easier.

10. Have Fun! Albuquerque is so beautiful this time of year and the people here are so kind. The crowds are only big for short periods of the day so you can really relax and enjoy yourself and have some fun here. It's so easy to get around the city and for a pretty big city it doesn't feel crowded.

There is so much to see and do. Take a bike tour with my friends at Routes Rentals, ride the Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway, visit Los Poblanos and see their beautiful Farm Shop, have some good New Mexico food at Sadie's or El Pinto. Enjoy the outdoor seating for great meals at Backstreet Grill, The Grove Cafe or The Standard Diner. Check out the art scene at one of the many galleries in town and visit all our fine museums too! There is no shortage of great things to do here in our city.

If you have other tips or recommendations I'd love to have you leave them in the comments below. It would be great for this post to have a variety of opinions and suggestions for the best ways to enjoy The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta!

*One more quick bit of info that can be very helpful. Because Balloon Fiesta is a weather dependent activity things can change or be cancelled if there is an issue with wind, rain, etc. For the most up-to-date activity and weather information, follow @balloonfiesta on Twitter or Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta on Facebook. Twitter is the most up to date source of information.  A couple of events have been cancelled this year (2016) and you can get a raincheck for a follow up event when that happens. You can save yourself the drive and parking and all if you are up to date on what's happening on the field if things are cancelled.

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