IMG_7660Wow, we have returned from an incredibly memorable family vacation to the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta!

If you’ve ever wanted a feast for the senses, you will want to put this annual international balloon fiesta on your bucket list.  It was on my hubby’s bucket list, so we packed the van and headed east to Albuquerque.

Every October, hundreds of hot air balloons from all around the world launch from the Balloon Fiesta Park.  To make the most of your visit, you start early…really early.  Here’s what we did:

4:00 am – Head for the parking lot

4:30 am – Load onto the shuttle bus to the Fiesta Park

5:00 am – Join the thousands who have gathered to watch the hot air punctuate the night sky

7:00 am – WOW…it is so exciting to be standing on a field with hot air balloons all around you being inflated

IMG_76389:00 am – Hundreds of balloons fill the sky.  Noelle loved the one with the hearts.  Lucy’s favorites were a fish that looked like Flounder and the panda.  Ethan loved the Darth Vader, so did I.

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You won’t ever forget this spectacle, so if you can swing it, enter this photographer’s paradise and put the fiesta on your family’s bucket list.

It is C-O-L-D, so bring your winters.  (Although since I’m a Southern CA girl, it was cold to me.  You cold winter people will probably think it’s a warm 40 degrees)

One thing I loved about the event was the happiness of the throngs of people.  Everyone was smiling and patient and jovial, even at very early hours in the morning.

We went back to our hotel around 10:00 am and after our 10:30 am lunch, we all went for a long winter nap.

It was lovely.

Then in the afternoon, we headed back to the Balloon Fiesta to watch the Twinkle Twinkle Glow and fireworks.  But the time of the twinkling came and went, and no balloons were inflated.

The winds were questionable, thus the yellow flag was up.  That meant they were still deciding whether or not the balloons would inflate.

Here are thousands of people waiting, looking at a yellow flag.  Yet again, everyone around us was happy.  Smiles everywhere.  Dads throwing Frisbees on the field.  Couples holding hands and waiting in line for coffee.  Balloon pilots waiting in the wings.  I was really surprised by all that optimism even though the main event was stalled.

The green flag was raised.  We whooped and hollered.  And the balloons began the show…as the night grew dark, they fired up their balloons, making them into giant nightlights in the sky.  It was really cool.

So, the next time you are planning a family vacation, you might want to consider the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta in October.  It is well worth it!




Arlene Pellicane

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