The 2009 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, given the name "Mass Happiness", is being held from October 3 to October 11 and is bringing thousands...

The 2009 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, given the name “Mass Happiness”, is being held from October 3 to October 11 and is bringing thousands of hot air balloonists and tourists from around the globe to Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The 38th annual Balloon Fiesta will feature 550 registered hot air and gas balloons and 650 balloon pilots representing 17 countries and 37 states. Every October, during these nine days, more than 800,000 spectators visit the event.


During the festival, the sky is filled with color as hundreds of balloons float over Albuquerque. Hundreds of balloons launch from 72 grass-covered acres each morning. Visitors and locals enjoy the spectacle of Mass Ascensions, Balloon Glows, AfterGlow fireworks, and hot air and gas balloon competitions.

From fire engines to bumble bees and skunks to flying cows, the special-shape balloons fascinate onlookers, especially during the Special Shape Rodeos. Balloon Fiesta attendees can also check out professional chainsaw carvers creating beautiful art out of wood, hundreds of booths offering arts and crafts from across the United States and an array of festival food and local cuisine including a variety of New Mexican breakfast burritos.

The annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta sees thousands of visitors to the world's largest hot air ballooning event. More than 550 balloons dot the bright blue sky above the New Mexican high-desert landscape each fall. Photo by Ron Behrmann

The annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta sees thousands of visitors, who come to view the world's largest hot air ballooning event. More than 550 balloons dot the bright blue sky above the New Mexican high-desert landscape each fall. Photo by Ron Behrmann

In Albuquerque’s unique fall weather, balloon pilots take advantage of the “Albuquerque Box,” a combination of upper and lower level winds created by the Rio Grande Valley and enhanced by the Sandia Mountains. The box sometimes enables balloonists to backtrack their flight paths and land close to their launch sites, an unlikely event in most other places because balloons can’t be steered.

Albuquerque hosts many activities throughout the week of Balloon Fiesta, including arts-and-crafts shows, special exhibits, a Santero market in Old Town, the Lighter Than Air Fair at the Balloon Museum and more.

Check out www.itsatrip.org/balloonfiesta for event details and special offers.

For information on Balloon Fiesta, visit www.balloonfiesta.com, and for information on Albuquerque, visit www.itsatrip.org.