I start this blog with a photograph so people get a perspective of the size of these hot air balloons. Even the smaller ones are immense compared to people.
The International Balloon Fiesta takes place each October in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Here are a few Balloon and Balloon Fiesta facts:
- Largest Balloon Event in the World – What started as a very small balloon event with 13 balloons in 1972, has become the largest balloon event with about 600 balloons and close to 1,000 pilots.
- Most Photographed Event in the World – With all the shapes and colors you’re sure to get great pictures, so make sure to bring your camera.
- Worldwide Participation – As many as 50 Countries and 43 states are represented.
- Attendance – Average Balloon Fiesta attendance is nearly 840,000 people over the nine-day event
- Balloon Flight Height – Hot air balloons have flown to over 30,000 feet, but generally don’t go higher than about 12,000 feet due to the requirement for supplemental oxygen.
- Best Event – Mass ascension is one of the most wondrous events of the Balloon Fiesta. All participating balloons launch in two waves, starting at about 7 a.m. The lead balloon takes off flying the American flag as the “Star-Spangled Banner” plays. The launch of hundreds of balloons takes about two hours.
- Number of Passengers – A typical balloon accommodates 2 riders and the pilot. Specialty balloons have bigger gondolas to hold more people.
- Balloon Weight – A typical balloon weighs approximately 650 lbs. which includes the envelope, gondola and fuel. Total weight with passengers can be 1,200 – 1,500 lbs. “Special shapes” balloons can weigh up to a ton.
- Cost of a Balloon – A typical plain balloon runs approximately $25,000. However, a “special shape” balloon can run up to $200,000 or more.
- The Albuquerque Box – A weather phenomenon where the lowest winds are moving in one direction and the higher-level winds are moving in another. More specifically, the Albuquerque Box, the high winds are from the south while the low winds are from the north. This benefits ballooning because the balloon can take off and land in almost the same spot.
Sounds like a wonderful event, right? Well, I have a confession. I’ve lived in New Mexico for 15 years and though I can travel to the site of the Balloon Fiesta in an hour, I have never attended the Balloon Fiesta. Why not, you would ask? One reason, I hate crowds. Did I say around 840,000 people attend? Did you see the picture? Okay, call me a wimp, but I just don’t like crowds.
That said, I have seen it from the Interstate highway which is located next to the Fiesta grounds and it looks just great. Oh yea, except for the crowds. Did I say that around 840,000 people attend?
One last point. Many of my facts came from various websites. I did that because I’ve never been to the Balloon Fiesta because 840,000 people attend and I don’t like crowds.