Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta Guide 2021: What’s New, RV Events & More

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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 the fiesta, RV camping, fun facts, and how you can even watch this amazing event live online, if you can’t make it to Albuquerque to experience it in person.

Even after all these years, having 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 – we shared a detailed blog post: Your Guide to a Great Time at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta plus our Top Tops for RV Camping at the Balloon Fiesta. 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!

We’re excited to be returning to the Balloon Fiesta once again! In this post, we focus on the specific, updated information you need to know about the 2021 event, and what’s different this year. We’re also honored to be participating in a few RV-related events, (including a couple of book signings) with some of our fellow RV content creators. We would love to see you there! 

OK, let’s get into the details.

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, now attracting over 600 balloons, pilots, and crowds from around the world, with over 750,000 people attending. This will be the 49th balloon fiesta held in Albuquerque.

It 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 enjoy our morning coffee 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!

What's New & Exciting for the 2021 Balloon Fiesta?

First up, with the pandemic causing the fiesta to be cancelled in 2020, there’s a lot of pent-up demand and excitement around this year’s event. And yes, COVID-19 protocols are in place, so please keep reading for more on those further down.

Second, this year the balloon fiesta is being sponsored by some of the biggest names in the RV industry, for the first time. These include RV LIFE, which is hosting a series of get togethers called “RV Bucket List Experiences”, and Lippert. There will be special events and booths dedicated to the interests of RVers – whether you’re RV camping at Fiesta Field or driving in. To find out more detail on the RV-specific events – including meetups with us and many of your favorite YouTubers/Bloggers, see the schedule section below (download the RV LIFE app, and check-in when you arrive).

Third, this year, there will be over 100 ‘special shape’ hot air balloons, plus pilots and balloons from over 20 countries!

When Is The 2021 Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta?

This year, in 2021, the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta runs from Saturday, October 2nd to Sunday, October 10. 

The events start early – from 6am each morning – with the Dawn Patrol, followed by the Mass Ascension. The AfterGlow Fireworks Show happens on October 2, 3, 7, 8, 9 and starts 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 events may be cancelled, if rain or high winds are present.

Schedule For The 2021 Hot Air Balloon Event

The balloon fiesta schedule is filled with all kinds of fun events on each of the nine days. And you’ll find a series of RV-er focused events throughout the fiesta, too.

Official Balloon Fiesta events include:

  • Dawn Patrol and the Mass Ascension of over 500 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.

RV-er Events and Meetups

While these don’t appear on the official Balloon Fiesta schedule, a number of RVer specific events have been organized, and will include:

  • Daily Social Sessions in each RV Lot
  • Access to the VIP Tent on Fiesta Field
  • Prize Drawings to win lots of great products, including the chance to win an RV site at the next Fiesta or a balloon ride
  • Meetups with some of your favorite RV blog/YouTube personalities
  • Book signing events with RVLove (keep an eye on our Instagram & Facebook)
  • Attending educational get-togethers
  • Connecting with over 29 RV groups to find your favorites
  • RVers attending the event or traveling in the area will be invited to the RV LIFE VIP tent on the launch field and to multiple special gatherings during the event (check in with the RV LIFE app)

For more information on RV LIFE and Lippert sponsored events for RVers download the RV LIFE app, and remember to check-in when you arrive at the event. RV LIFE will donate $1 per check-in to CareCamps to help send kids with cancer to camp! 

Come on down and visit the RV LIFE balloon, located at J5 during the Mass Ascension each morning!

Click to view Schedule of RVer events: subject to change, check daily during event

Tickets and Reservations for the 2021 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. 

Tickets are generally non-refundable, but if the session you bought a ticket for is cancelled for weather, you can use your ticket as a ‘raincheck’ for a future session during the 2021 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

RV Site Reservations at Fiesta Field

RVers dry camp in Fiesta Field, and RV site reservations for this year are already sold out. They are NOT accepting any more names on the waitlist. These usually sell out well in advance, and of course, 2020 reservations rolled over into 2021. Reservations for next year’s Balloon Fiesta open on Wednesday, January 5, 2022.

If you already have an RV site booked for this year’s Balloon Fiesta, you’ll find all the info you need to know at the links below.

There are many other RV parks and campgrounds in New Mexico. You can find them here at Campground Reviews, and in 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!

9 Top Tips For the 2021 Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

  1. 2021 shuttle buses are much more limited than in the past due to COVID-19 restrictions, limited drivers etc. So consider walking – or riding your bike – from your RV site or other accommodation. There is a Bike Valet on site to keep your bike secure by having two piece tickets for rider and their bike. It 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 the 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).
  4. Be mindful of, and stay up to date on the Balloon Fiesta’s COVID-19 protocols, Remember to bring your face mask, and even a small bottle of hand sanitizer.
  5. Download the official ABQ Balloon Fiesta app to stay up to date, including any changes. Or view schedule/download a PDF here at the Balloon Fiesta website.
  6. Download the RV LIFE app (if you don’t already have it) and check-in on the app upon arrival to stay up to date on RV-community specific events. And follow us on Instagram / Facebook for RV Love event and book signing updates.
  7. Come to the RV-er specific events – click here to check schedule – and see the RV LIFE balloon ascend from J5 each morning!
  8. Pets (excluding certified service animals) are NOT allowed past the ticket gates, so make sure you have a plan in place for your furry family members.
  9. Check the Official Balloon Fiesta Website for FAQs and tons of useful info!

COVID-19 Information: What You Need to Know

After the 2020 event had to be cancelled, the 2021 Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta in New Mexico is implementing multiple strategies to minimize the COVID risk. Fortunately, while it is a very large event, it is mostly an outdoor event which will help reduce exposure risk. Please visit the link at the bottom of this section for the most current information, from Balloon Fiesta officials.

  • Face masks are required to be worn in all indoor areas, and crowded outdoor areas (see specific mask type requirements in the bottom link.)
  • Masks are required for all Shuttle buses and Park and Ride
  • Hand sanitizer and hand washing stations will be available
  • Increased physical distancing is encouraged
  • Spacing out of popular attractions to allow more physical distancing
  • Not conducting the Discovery Center because of too many touch points
  • Reduced music fiesta
  • Moving indoor and tent hospitality to more outdoor options
  • Providing cashless options for purchasing tickets

Get more information and stay up to date at: https://balloonfiesta.com/COVID19

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 2021 Balloon Fiesta

You can watch highlights and replays from previous years too.

7 Fun Facts about the Balloon Fiesta!?

  • The 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.
  • The Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta is the most photographed event on the planet!
  • 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 that the events attracts over 8,000 RVers into Albuquerque area.
  • The Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta is considered to be one of the greatest events for RVers in the world, and is even listed as one of “21 Things To Do” in our bestselling 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!

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 2021: What’s New, RV Events & More”

  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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