The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta celebrated its 40th anniversary last year by setting a world record for the most hot air balloons launched in one hour. Awe-struck visitors from around the world, their upturned faces scanning the sky, watched as 345 brightly colored hot air balloons lifted off during the Mass Ascension on Oct. 1, 2011. During the course of the nine-day event, 700 balloons filled the sky. The 2012 fiesta is Oct. 6-14, and events include mass ascensions, balloon glows and the Special Shapes Rodeo, a tradition of the fiesta since 1989.
Albuquerque, N.M., is uniquely suited to host this balloon fiesta. The Albuquerque Box, a weather phenomenon, is a pattern of predictable winds — southerly at low elevations, northerly at high elevations — that allow balloonists to navigate in a vertical box. Sometimes pilots can make several passes and land in the launch field.
This was the first time we brought our motorhome to the fiesta, and it’s the best way to go. Airstream rally organizers allowed us to join their group, even though we own an SOB (some other brand). We gladly endured their good-natured teasing for access to a VIP site with dry camping adjacent to the launch field. Sites with water and electric hookups are also available. For more information, call 888-422-7277 or visit www.balloonfiesta.com.