Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta Guide (2023 update)

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The famous Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta is a bucket list event for millions globally. In this handy guide, we share some top tips for attending the fiesta. We cover how to snag an RV camping spot, fun facts and tips. Plus how you can watch this amazing event live online even if you can’t make it to Albuquerque to experience it in person.

Even after all these years, after visiting all 50 states in our RV life, the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta remains a favorite and memorable experience. Our first time attending the balloon fiesta was in 2016, our second was in 2021. We have shared more detail in our blog post: Your Guide to a Great Time at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta plus our Top Tips for RV Camping at the Balloon Fiesta. From these posts, you can also watch two videos from our experience of this amazing event, including what it’s like to launch, retrieve and fly in a hot air balloon!

As you might expect, the balloon fiesta is a VERY popular event, and RV camping sites sell out FAST. So if you can snag one, we highly recommend it!

>>> PRO TIP <<<

Online Reservations for RV Camping open Wednesday, January 11 at 9am MT for the 2023 Fiesta. Click here to book – and review their instructions in advance.

OK, let’s get into the details.

RV camping at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta in 2016 – South Lot

What Is The Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta?

The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is an annual festival of hot air balloons that takes place in Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA during early October. Since its humble beginnings in 1972 when 13 balloons were launched, the event has grown to become what is now the largest hot air balloon festival in the world. 

It is now a nine-day event, attracting over 600 balloons, pilots, and large crowds from around the world, with over 750,000 people attending. Last year (2022) was the 50th anniversary and attracted 648 pilots and balloons from 20 countries! More than 100 of those are ‘special shape’ balloons, the most popular at the event. 2023 will be the 51st Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.

The balloon fiesta is truly an amazing experience. Especially for RVers, as we can park our homes on wheels right next to the action. This means we get to avoid all the hassles of driving, traffic, and parking at the event. And we get to drink our morning coffee in our pajamas, as hundreds of colorful hot air balloons float over us across the blue skies! There is nothing quite like feeling like you are living inside a kaleidoscope when you are surrounded by all these colorful, magical balloons! But there are other accommodation options available, if you don’t have an RV.

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Inflated balloons on a no-fly day due to weather – at the Balloon Fiesta in 2021

When Is The 2023 Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta?

This year, the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta runs from Saturday, October 7th to Sunday, October 15th, 2023.

The event starts early, gates open at 4.30am. Morning sessions kick off around 6am with Dawn Patrol, then the Morning Glow, which is followed by Mass Ascension.

Gates open again at 3pm for the evening sessions, which include the Twinkle Twinkle Glow, Skydiving, and AfterGlow Fireworks Show. These happen on the weekend of October 7-8, and 12-13-14. The fireworks start at 8pm.

We recommend you plan on being there for more than just a day (ideally several) to ensure you do get to see as many events as possible. Although the weather at this time of year in New Mexico is generally excellent for hot air balloons. It is always possible that some rain or high winds can cause events to be canceled. For example, in 2022, the 50th Balloon Fiesta had 8 of the 14 events canceled, due to the weather!

Evening Balloon Glow at Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta in 2021

Schedule For The 2023 Hot Air Balloon Event

The balloon fiesta schedule is filled with all kinds of fun events on each of the nine days. The events take place during morning and evening sessions.

Official Balloon Fiesta events include:

  • Dawn Patrol and the Mass Ascension of over 600 balloons every morning
  • Evening Balloon Glows
  • Fireworks Displays
  • Skydivers
  • Special Shape Rodeos
  • Chainsaw Carving
  • Balloon Flying Competitions
  • and much more

Of course, events are weather dependent, so may be subject to cancellation, if the conditions are unfavorable.

View the official Balloon Fiesta Event and Entertainment Daily Schedule

Tickets and RV Reservations for 2023 Balloon Fiesta

General admission tickets are available online, or at the gate and they have never fully sold out. Tickets are $15 per person aged 13 and older (kids 12 and under are free) and are good for one session. There are usually two sessions on most days – an early morning session, and an evening session, but only 14 sessions in total. There are no evening sessions Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or second Sunday. 

Tickets are generally non-refundable. But if the session you bought a ticket for is canceled due to weather, you can use your ticket as a ‘raincheck’ for a future session during the next event. 

Keep in mind that parking is $20 per session! So if you plan on driving in from outside of the Fiesta fields, you may be better off buying a Park and Ride ticket. Or, consider riding your bike and using their free bike valet service.

Click here to buy your Fiesta tickets in advance 

Parking, Shuttles and Other Tickets

You can also buy tickets for Park and Ride shuttle buses. Buses help avoid traffic and parking challenges. Ticket prices vary from $10-$25 depending on age of rider, and price includes admission to the event. The Park and Ride makes extra sense when you factor in the $20 parking fee. 

There are other tickets available – for the Balloon Museum, Balloon Rides, and other programs such the Chaser’s Club, the Gondola Club, Glamping, and concierge services. You can learn more about those options at the Fiesta website here.

Click here for more info on all the options and to buy tickets

RVs dry camping in the South Lot at Balloon Fiesta field in 2021

RV Site Reservations at Fiesta Field

RV site reservations can only be made online. Reservations open at 9am MT on Wednesday, January 11th, 2023. Get the important information you need to secure your online reservation here! You’ll need to be prepared and fast!

RVers dry camp in the South Lot, without utilities, for $50 a night. Tent camping is $35 a night. There are also more expensive options for Premium, VIP, and the President’s Compound, but these are usually very difficult to get. 

You can find more information on RV camping below:

There are many other RV parks and campgrounds in New Mexico. You can find them at Campground Reviews and the RV LIFE app. While RV parks in the Albuquerque area may also be sold out, it may be worth contacting them to see if they have availability or a waitlist. Or even drive in from farther out for the fun! 

Of course, there are other options outside of RVing, like Airbnb, glamping, or hotel.

Watching inflated balloons from Balloon Fiesta Field

Glamping at the Balloon Fiesta

You can also spend 3 nights in a glamping tent for $1,600! These aren’t cheap, but offer a unique experience! Learn more about the Balloon Glamping experience.

Stay at an Albuquerque Hotel near the Balloon Fiesta

This website is the exclusive online booking site for discounted hotels over the Balloon Fiesta event. 

Watching hot air balloons float from launch field over our RV in the VIP West lot, 2021

It’s common for hot ait balloons to land in the RV parking lots or neighboring fields

7 Tips For Attending Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

  1. There are free shuttle buses to transport people around the park and parking lots. There is also a Bike Valet on-site to keep your bike secure by having two-piece tickets for riders and their bikes. This is a free service provided by volunteers to help promote biking in the Albuquerque area. For more information on Bike Valet and bike routes click here
  2. Mornings can be very chilly, but warm up quickly after the sun comes up. Evenings can get chilly after sundown too. Dress in layers so you can easily adapt to changing conditions, and bring a warm jacket.
  3. Food vendors are available on site, but sometimes have long lines and aren’t exactly the healthiest options. Consider bringing food and snacks (allowed as long as there’s no glass or alcohol).
  4. While there are no COVID-19 restrictions this year, fiesta organizers take these precautions. You may wish to bring your own hand sanitizer and mask. 
  5. Download the official ABQ Balloon Fiesta app to stay up to date, including any changes. Or view schedule/download a PDF from the Balloon Fiesta website.
  6. No pets (except certified service animals) are allowed past the ticket gates. You can’t fly drones, and there’s strictly NO smoking on the fiesta field.
  7. Check the Official Balloon Fiesta Website for FAQs and tons of useful info!

How to Stream Balloon Fiesta LIVE – For Free

If you can’t make it to Albuquerque to experience the Balloon Fiesta LIVE and in person, you can watch it online for free!

You’ll get to experience close to 40 hours of live video streaming of the balloon flights, events and entertainment, plus LIVE guests, LIVE audience interaction and even LIVE balloons. All thanks to the hosts of the Balloon Fiesta Live Stream!

Click here to tune in live during the Balloon Fiesta

You can watch highlights and replays from previous years too.

8 Fun Facts about the Balloon Fiesta!?

  • Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is the largest hot-air ballooning event on earth!
  • The Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta is the largest annual international event held in the United States.
  • Most photographed event on the planet? Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta!
  • The city has a unique phenomenon known as the “Albuquerque Box,” a set of predictable wind patterns and geography that gives balloonists greater control over navigating their balloons.
  • It is estimated this event attracts over 8,000 RVers into the Albuquerque area.
  • The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is considered to be one of the greatest events for RVers in the world
  • This event is listed as one of “21 Things To Do” in our book Living the RV Life.
  • As a non-profit organization, the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is supported by over 1,000 volunteers who help make this amazing event happen each year!

Got More Questions?

You’ll find more answers at the official Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta website. Here’s their FAQ page.

A giant armadillo balloon lands in a field along with dozens of others

Have You Been To The Balloon Fiesta?

Have you ever been to the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta?  What was your experience? Are you going this year? We’d love to hear from you and hopefully see you there! Please leave your comments and questions below.

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9 thoughts on “Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta Guide (2023 update)”

  1. Any hints for those of us who have furry friends that can’t be left in RV Parks unattended? Are there places we could at least get a glimpse of the balloons from outside the venue?

    Reply
    • Oh you’ll see them all around Albuquerque! It’s probably best to avoid anywhere near Fiesta field, as the traffic to get to the event will be bad, but I would suggest finding a nice park somewhere to take your coffee and breakfast and relax as they fly overhead. It’s hard to miss them all around the town!

      Reply
  2. Have never attended the balloon festival in Albuquerque. We have a Class A Tiffin Diesel Motor Home . How can we attend in 2022. Any information will be helpful . Thanks Dushant Ahuja

    Reply
  3. Thank you for all the great information. We are attending the “fest” for the first time and you info will make the trip so much easier ! Can’t wait !!

    Reply
    • Fantastic! Our first visit was with the Xscapers group in 2016. If you get the chance to “crew” for a balloon launch and chase (and are physically able) DO IT – it’s so much fun! We look forward to seeing you there. Come to the RVer VIP tent events….we’ll know more detail when we get there!

      Reply
    • You are staying with Escapees??? US TOO!!! I thought you would be with Fantasy! We arrive on Sept. 29. Can’t wait to see you!

      Reply

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