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Balloon Fiesta Facts and Figures

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Bee Balloon Couple
© Aileen O'Catherine
The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta has amassed forty one years worth of facts, figures and history. The 2013 Balloon Fiesta takes place October 5 through October 13, and will likely draw about 800,000 visitors.

The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta has an annual theme, and for 2013, it is "Enchanted Sunrise." It really is an enchanted morning those October days, when the balloons rise together into the sky. Take a look at some Balloon Fiesta statistics.

Balloon Fiesta History

  • The first balloon event in Albuquerque took place on April 8, 1972, at Coronado Shopping Center. Thirteen balloons participated. The first event was a promotion for KOB-AM radio.
  • From 1972 - 1975, balloon events took place in late winter/early spring.
  • The first event to be called the "Balloon Fiesta" took place in 1975, in the fall.
  • The first Balloon Glow took place on Christmas Eve, 1979, when local pilots wanted to thank New Mexicans for support of ballooning.
  • Gas balloons were part of events until 1981, and went on hiatus until 1993, when the Gordon Bennett race was brought to the fiesta. The World Championship started in 1994 and the America's Challenge Gas Balloon Race began at Fiesta in 1995.
  • The first Special Shapes Glowdeo began with just 28 special shape balloons.
  • The Balloon Fiesta Hall of Fame contains 26 balloon legends.
  • The first Dawn Patrol launched at the 1978 Balloon Fiesta. The Dawn Patrol was created when two balloonists developed position lighting systems that enabled night flight to take place.

Balloon Fiesta Facts
The Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta is the world's premier international ballooning event. It happens in Albuquerque because the city has some great ballooning requirements. Early October in Albuquerque brings cool morning and evening temperatures, just right for a balloon launch. The city also has a phenomenon known as the "Albuquerque Box," a combination of weather patterns and geography that results in balloonists having great control over their balloons. All in all, Albuquerque is a great place to launch a balloon--or hundreds of balloons.

  • The 2013 event will have pilots representing 18 countries. This year's countries will be the United States, Brazil, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Costa Rica, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Lithuania, Mexico, Poland, Switzerland, Thailand and the United Kingdom. International balloons will get the spotlight on Wednesday, October 9 during the Flight of the Nations. Up to two balloons from each country will launch while carrying their country's flag during the mass ascension.
  • In 2011, the Balloon Fiesta received a Guinness World Record for the Greatest Mass Hot Air Balloon Ascent, for the most balloons launched within the shortest period of time.
  • Balloon Fiesta couldn't take place without the hundreds of volunteers who help each year. Volunteers take tickets, judge events, participate in chase crews and much more. More than 1,000 volunteers help make the event happen.
  • Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta Inc., a no-profit, runs the Fiesta.
  • Because the event has an excellent safety record, the Balloon Fiesta is one of the only balloon events where viewers can walk among the balloons and talk to the pilots.
  • Balloon Fiesta Park is over 360 acres and the launch field is 78 acres.
  • Balloon Fiesta mass ascensions include 500 balloons--or more.
  • Mass ascensions of about 700 balloons take about two hours.
  • The Balloon Fiesta is the largest ballooning event on the earth.
  • The Balloon Fiesta is the most photographed event on the planet.
  • The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is the largest annual international event held in the United States.
  • Balloon Fiesta has a Facebook page with more than 58,000 followers. Read memories and tips from worldwide fans.
  • Balloon Fiesta's launch fields total the size of 56 football fields.

Special Shapes Balloons for 2013

  • Peg Leg Pete, a parrot dressed as a pirate, U.S.
  • Princess Carriage, Brazil
  • Rocket Boy, a boy with a jet pac attached to his back, Brazil
  • Scuba Diver, Brazil
  • Snow White, England
  • Triple Clown Head, Brazil
  • Little Wizard, Brazil
  • BOB (Briezh on Board), a lighthouse with a face, France
  • Hummingbird, Brazil
  • Angry Bird, U.S.

Attendance at Balloon Fiesta
The Balloon Fiesta has as many or more visitors annually than the population of Albuquerque itself. That's a lot of visitors!

  • The 2010 annual fiesta had an estimated 811,484 visitors.
  • In 2009, 761,864 visitors (five events cancelled)
  • In 2008, 702,884 visitors ( six events cancelled)
  • In 2007, 899,466 visitors (broke all previous attendance records)

Miles to Balloon Fiesta from Selected Cities:
Albuquerque is an easy drive from a number of nearby cities:

  • Amarillo 288
  • Colorado Springs 378
  • Dallas/Fort Worth 644
  • Denver 437
  • El Paso 266
  • Las Cruces 223
  • Las Vegas 586
  • Los Angeles 811
  • Oklahoma City 543
  • Phoenix 458
  • Salt Lake City 604
  • Tucson 448

A Bit About Albuquerque

  • Albuquerque is the largest city in New Mexico, the Land of Enchantment, with about a half million residents in incorporated Albuquerque.
  • The Albuquerque metro area has a population of just under 1 million.
  • Albuquerque is 5,000 feet above sea level (1,539 meters)

    Like gadgets and statistics? You'll love these apps for Balloon Fiesta and Albuquerque.

    Find a nearby destination for an Albuquerque day trip during Balloon Fiesta.

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