Hundreds of thousands of spectators will watch the 2010 event, which is themed "Earth, Wind and Flyers". The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is the...

More than 500 balloons will launch each morning in Albuquerque, New Mexico during the 39th Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta from October 2 to October 10.

Hundreds of thousands of spectators will watch the 2010 Albuquerque event, which is themed “Earth, Wind and Flyers”. The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is the biggest hot-air ballooning event in the world.

The 2010 event will host more than 650 pilots, representing 17 countries and 39 U.S. states. New Mexico is home to the largest number of balloon pilots in the U.S. and nearly 200 balloons.

In Albuquerque’s unique fall weather, pilots from around the world take advantage of the “box” – a combination of upper-level and lower-level winds created by the Rio Grande Valley and enhanced by the Sandia Mountains. The box enables balloonists to sometimes backtrack their flight paths and land close to their launch sites.

Special-shape balloons prepare to launch during the world's largest hot air ballooning event, the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. The event draws hundreds of thousands of spectators to witness the amazing views as more than 500 hot air balloons color the skies

Altogether, 91 specially shaped balloons are registered for the 2010 Fiesta, including some new balloons – The Stork, Waddles, Three Monkeys, Crazy Crab and Zebra. Special shapes are often the highlight of the week, especially for children who collect trading cards from their favorite balloons.

Residents of states other than New Mexico may see balloons float past their homes during the first week of October as the 15th America’s Challenge Gas Balloon Race sends 18 pilots and nine gas balloons on a distance challenge. The event launches from Balloon Fiesta Park in Albuquerque on Tuesday, October 5 and challenges pilots to fly the greatest distance, which often involves at least two days aloft and flight distances of more than 1,000 miles.

In addition to a spectacular feast for the eyes, Balloon Fiesta visitors are also treated to tempting tastes from around the Southwest. After the ballooning action is over, the city will be bustling with activity and events. Details are available at

Albuquerque hotels still have availability during Balloon Fiesta. For information on the event, visit and for details on visiting Albuquerque, visit

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