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Hot Air Balloon Rainbows Over Albuquerque

Updated on February 18, 2014
Colorful ballons in the early morning during the Balloon Fiesta.
Colorful ballons in the early morning during the Balloon Fiesta.

In the fall season, when the green leaves of summer and hot temperatures begin to drop, the blue skies over Albuquerque, New Mexico are filled with beautiful spots of every color imaginable from the annual Balloon Fiesta. The blues range from the lightest sky blue to the darkest navy blue and the red turn from cherry to almost orange. Hot air balloons of every shape and color arrive from all over the world with their pilots and chase crews to take flight in one of the world's largest balloon events. The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta also brings people from all over the world to one of the most spectacular and colorful events on Earth.

Mass Ascension

Mass Ascension is the assembly of all hot air balloons at Balloon Fiesta Park. It takes place each morning during Balloon Fiesta. In the early morning, just before the sun peaks over Sandia crest, visitors, pilots, and chase crews assemble at Balloon Fiesta Park for the morning lift off of hundreds of balloons. The colorful, enchanting spectacle is topped off by a morning breakfast comprised of a green chili and potato breakfast burrito and hot chocolate. As the crews begin to arrange the balloons in their places, visitors stroll about watching these flat, inanimate, giant pillows come to life. A honeybee over here and a beautiful multicolored spiral traditional balloon over there make the first round of the Mass Ascension complete and balloons begin to lift off from Balloon Fiesta Park. The ground and the sky are filled with amazing hot air balloons.

Second round of mass ascension on a typical Balloon Fiesta morning.
Second round of mass ascension on a typical Balloon Fiesta morning.
An upward glance at a traditional hot air balloon.
An upward glance at a traditional hot air balloon.

Traditional Hot Air Balloons

Traditional hot air balloons are spherical in shape with a gondola at the very bottom. They come in a wide range of colors and designs. Most are colored in a spiral or multicolored zebra stripes. Most hot air balloons that lift off from Balloon Fiesta Park are traditional hot air balloons and their presence is always welcome because they float about in the sky above Albuquerque like multicolored clouds.

A special shape stork balloon.
A special shape stork balloon.
Darth Vader special shapes balloon.
Darth Vader special shapes balloon.

Special Shapes

From Darth Vader to the Wells Fargo stagecoach to butterflies and more, the hot air balloon special shapes are an enchanting sight for even the oldest of adults. They are beloved by children and, on special days during the Balloon Fiesta, they are the only balloons at Balloon Fiesta Park. The Special Shapes Rodeo features all or most special shapes balloons in attendance at the Balloon Fiesta. They are individually blown up and come to life before your eyes. Unfortunately, unlike traditional hot air balloons that are seen in the skies over Albuquerque year round, special shapes balloons are usually only seen in the days before, during, or after the Balloon Fiesta. So, watching special shapes balloons being aired up and guessing which special shapes balloon it will be is a special treat for the family or a great place to get some good pictures, for you photographers out there.

The Albuquerque Box

One of the reasons Albuquerque's Balloon Fiesta is so popular is the topographically enabled "Albuquerque Box." A cartoon of the phenomenon is seen below. Basically, the Box is a wind occurrence that is unique to the Albuquerque area because of the low lying lands close to the Rio Grande and the north-south Sandia Mountain range. On perfect days, these features allow the winds in Albuquerque to carry hot air balloons south from Balloon Fiesta Park during Mass Ascension and, as the balloons gain altitude, the changing winds higher up move the balloons north again. Because of this extraordinary wind trend, it is possible for hot air balloons to lift off from Balloon Fiesta Park and land in the park after they have been in the air for several minutes or hours. The Box is also the reason hot air balloons can be seen from Balloon Fiesta Park for hours after they lift off. These occurrences prompt balloon pilots and Balloon Fiesta visitors to return each year.

A cartoon diagram of the Albuquerque Box.
A cartoon diagram of the Albuquerque Box.
Spider Pig during a special shapes Balloon Glow.
Spider Pig during a special shapes Balloon Glow.

The Balloon Glow

On Balloon Fiesta evenings a magical glow ascends over Balloon Fiesta Park when hundreds of balloons twinkle in the desert night. The Balloon Glow features both special shape and traditional hot air balloons. Their lights bring forth features that can be overlooked during the day, such as the way the flame looks inside the envelope of the balloons or the seams where patches have been sown together. The heat from the balloons also keep visitors warm after the sun goes down. The Balloon Glow is a favorite for anyone looking to see something out of the ordinary.

If you find yourself with nothing to do the first week of October, I suggest making a trip out to Albuquerque to see the balloons yourself. They are colorfully beautiful and riding in one can be even more spectacular. Imagine flying over Albuquerque, passing over the Rio Grande, and seeing how peaceful and beautiful the desert can be from an aerial view. Balloon rides are offered by various companies around Albuquerque and range in price. In addition, the skies of Albuquerque welcome balloon flights almost year round; however, on some days during the summer it is uncommon to see hot air balloons because the warm air prevents them from flying effectively. Either way, the Balloon Fiesta is an exciting event to witness.

Aloft! at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta
Aloft! at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

This book features pictures and a history on the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.


© 2012 morningstar18


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    • morningstar18 profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Albuquerque, New Mexico

      Thank you for commenting and reading my hub. If that is your idea of a hot air balloon I am happy to enlighten you. The Balloon Fiesta truly is absolutely amazing every year. May be you will be able to be experience it first hand some day.

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 

      6 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      I love balloon festivals, but have always hated that in my area, these gems were only visible until they became nothing more than dots on the horizon! I had no idea there was a place where balloons will basically "stay in place" once airborne. How wonderful the sight of "colorful clouds" can be enjoyed far longer than anywhere else!

      Voted up, useful and awesome! ;D

    • morningstar18 profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Albuquerque, New Mexico

      Thank you for commenting and welcoming me to HubPages. The Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque is one of the best things to see in New Mexico. I hope you'll be able to see them first-hand some day.

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 

      6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I would love to see all these balloons in Albuquerque. They are quite beautiful in the pictures and am sure even more so in real life.

      Thanks for sharing and Welcome to HubPages.


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