Albuquerque Balloon Festival Transportation Tips & Tricks
By Michael Masone September 6, 2017
The annual Albuquerque Balloon Festival is upon us again as participants from around the globe prepare to blow hot air into 750 of the most elaborate and beautiful hot air balloons in the world from October 7 to 15, 2017.
From its humble beginnings in 1972 with 13 balloons and 20,000 spectators, the Albuquerque Balloon Festival has steadily grown, especially thanks to its merging with the 1975 World Hot Air Balloons event. In 2000, organizers were flooded by almost 1,000 entrants, forcing them to cap the number of participants at 750 to ensure that only the best of the best are represented at this exciting event.
The festival’s rise in popularity, attracting almost 100,000 spectators from all over the world, has led to the steady expansion of events during the festivities, as well as the establishment of a 365-acre Balloon Fiesta Park, located north of Alameda Blvd and 1 mile west of I-25.
A Kaleidoscope of Colorful Events
The nine-day Albuquerque Balloon Festival is jam-packed with a variety of events from races and balloon glows, to the seemingly unrelated chainsaw carving invitationals and laser light shows. Of course, the biggest attraction is the Balloon Fiesta, which features a large collection of hot air balloons.
The Albuquerque Balloon Festival is also the most photographed event on earth and the largest ballooning event in the world, as well as the largest annual international event held in the United States. Clearly, it’s an event that is spectacular enough to consistently attract giant crowds, entrants, and maintain international records. If it’s not yet on your travel bucket list, it certainly should be!
The Dawn Patrol is another event to look forward to during the festival, which involves pilots taking to the air by 5:45 am, then not touching ground until shortly after sunrise. The stunning spectacle of seeing a new day ushered in by the glowing orbs is only possible now due to several technological advances in the industry.
The Mass Ascension is yet another can’t-miss event that requires a bit of an early start, as it marks the 7 am lift-off for hundreds of balloons. Conversely, the Balloon Glow is a popular evening activity where pilots fire their burners after dark, lighting up countless acres of fields with the warm glow from their balloons. On a couple of nights during the festival, an elaborate firework show will follow that evening’s Balloon Glow.
During the Albuquerque Balloon Festival, a few nights will be busy with gas balloon competitions and Special Shape Glowdeos, while a couple evenings have no officially scheduled activities. While planning your trip, make sure to check the events page for the full schedule.
Get Your Tickets to the Albuquerque Balloon Festival
Tickets for this world-class event are sold per session. There are a total of 14 sessions: nine morning sessions and five night sessions.
The park opens at 4:30 am for the morning session and again at 3:30 pm for the evening sessions, closing at 9 pm.
General Admission tickets are $10 per session, and a five-pack session can be purchased at the discounted rate of $45. Tickets can be purchased online at the event ticketing page, or at 7-Eleven stores in Albuquerque, Los Lunas, Socorro, Moriarty, Mountain Air, and Rio Rancho starting on September 1.
If you want the VIP experience, there are several special tickets to gain access to private areas that offer better views, dedicated parking, and food. If you want to ride in a hot air balloon, check out Rainbow Ryders for more information.
Getting to the Albuquerque Balloon Festival
There are a number of options for transportation to the Albuquerque Balloon Festival, regardless of where you’re coming from in the United States.
Rent a Party Bus or Charter Bus
If you’re helping to plan a group trip to this extraordinary event, consider renting a bus. Outsourcing logistics will help you to avoid the hassle of planning routes to avoid traffic congestion and dealing with the chaos of parking in an event that expects more than 80,000 visitors. A party bus can even be decorated specifically for the event, allowing everyone to get in the mood before arriving, and making it so that nobody has to worry about how much they drink in the heat of the moment during festival activities.
If you’ve never booked a party bus before, the following frequently asked questions (and answers) may be useful in planning your trip:
Does a transportation company like BusBank sell festival tickets?
BusBank is only responsible for chartering the buses. You’ll have to buy your own tickets to the event (see the previous section in this article for details).
How far from the festival will my bus drop me?
We will work with local authorities and event promoters to find the safest and most convenient festival drop-off location. All festival drop off locations are guaranteed to be within a reasonable walking distance.
How do I find my bus after the festival is over for the day?
Unless instructed otherwise, you’ll be picked up where you were dropped off. Final check in information will be sent 24 hours before getting on the bus.
Are food and drink allowed on the bus?
Yes, but the driver will not clean up after you. So make sure to take your garbage off the bus with you, or else you may be dealing with an additional cleaning fee.
Is there a bathroom on the bus?
If you’ve scheduled a bus for a drive of 75 miles or more one way, there will be a lavatory on board. If needed, restroom stops can be made.
Can I leave items on the bus that I do not want to carry around?
We cannot be held responsible for any lost, misplaced, or stolen items you left on the bus, but you are allowed to leave things on the bus if necessary.
BusBank’s pickup locations include major cities like:
• Los Angeles
• New York City
• San Francisco
Even if you’re not coming from a major city, there are still options for bus pickup within each state. Head over to BusBank’s website for all options for service by location.
Additional Options for Festival Transportation
If you do want to drive to the event, there is parking available for a fee, which will be collected on-site. It is also possible for smaller groups to take advantage of the Albuquerque Balloon Festival park-and-ride option, which allows guests to park at selected locations in Albuquerque, and then catch a ride to and from the festival. Like the option of renting a bus to easily transport a large group, this can help to lessen congestion at the popular event. Additionally, the ticket price for the park-and-ride option includes session admission. Take a look at the park and ride page for details on where you can leave your car.
Albuquerque Balloon Festival doesn’t provide shuttle pickups from hotels, which means you’ll have to arrange those directly with the hotel, or with a third party transportation company.
Don’t Forget! Bring Your Own…
Unless you purchased a special ticket, such as for the Gondola Club or Chaser’s Club, there are a limited number of tables and seats available. It is highly encouraged to bring your own lawn furniture if you’d like comfortable seating during the day. Additionally, you can bring food and drink into the park, but you cannot bring anything involving glass and alcohol. For more information, check out the Albuquerque Balloon Festival’s FAQ page.
This mesmerizing display of hot air balloons is something you don’t want to miss. The jam-packed schedule of races, glows, fireworks, and other special events will keep you spellbound from the moment you get there, until well after you leave.
Though self-driving or taking advantage of the park-and-ride option are both great if there are only a few of you coming out to the event, a party bus can really get things moving for larger groups excited about all the hot air.