There are no words to describe what it’s like to see 400 balloons rise almost simultaneously. The Albuquerque Balloon Festival is incredible. I’ve always wanted to go and this year we made it. We arrived at 5:00 a.m. on opening day with about 50,000 other people, some of whom were eating corn dogs and curly fries at that hour!
The balloons and chase vehicles are all on the field by 7:00 a.m. The balloon are laid out flat in numbered rows….all 70 feet of them (I knew they were big but not that big!). When the referees hear from the pilot balloons already in the air about wind conditions, they start letting the balloons fill with air. It takes about ten minutes to fill a balloon. The referees have the system down to a science….the balloons are so close together and some rise three and four at a time, but we didn’t see any bumping. The whole thing was jaw-dropping amazing. It was a perfect day too. Cool in the morning with a few clouds and I was able to get a few images of the pilot balloons filling up and taking off before sunrise. Then the sun came out and the balloons became works of art in the clear blue sky.
So be sure to watch slide show. Yes, it’s a long one (be patient – it takes a while to load), and I’m not sure the pictures do justice to how magnificent the event was, but the balloons are so beautiful I know that you’ll want to watch all of it. Enjoy!