Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta
The 2016 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta begins this weekend in Albuquerque, New Mexico with about 550 balloons. The nine-day event, founded in 1972, is considered the largest hot air balloon festival in the world, and once swelled to over 1,000 balloons before being limited by organizers.
The number of registered balloons reached a peak of 1,019 in 2000, prompting the Balloon Fiesta Board to limit the number to 750 starting in 2001, citing a desire for “quality over quantity”. The limit was changed to 600 in 2009 — citing recent growth in the city and a loss of landing zones. On any given day during the festival, up to 100,000 spectators may be on the launch field where they are provided the rare opportunity to observe inflation and take off procedures. Countless more people gather at landing sites all over the city to watch incoming balloons.
While we prefer the traditionally shaped balloons, you can also find a variety of shapes and designs amongst the Balloon Fiesta. Popular activities during the Fiesta include Dawn Patrol, Mass Ascensions, Balloon Glows, and the Special Shape Rodeo. Check out this amazing gallery of 40 photos we’ve collected from around the web for an idea of what the Balloon Fiesta is like :