The Magic of the International Balloon Fiesta 

Tips for enjoying the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta in an RV With Brian and Surna Barton
A sky full of colorful hot air balloons at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

We‘re the Bartons, and three years ago, we embarked on exciting adventures, traveling in our Coleman Travel Trailer with our three kids and two dogs. We've explored diverse landscapes, from breathtaking national parks to quirky small towns, creating a lifetime of memories along the way. Despite occasional hiccups, each day on the road offers a fresh adventure and a chance to grow closer as a family.

After traveling for three years, we've had some incredible experiences on the road, but none compare to bringing our RV to the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta.

What is the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta?

The Balloon Fiesta is a mesmerizing celebration of vibrant colors, breathtaking views, and the sheer joy of flight. This annual event brings together hot air balloon enthusiasts from around the world to showcase their skills and be a part of a visual spectacle like no other. Held in Albuquerque, New Mexico, this festival has become one of the most anticipated and celebrated events in the region and a very popular RV festival experience.

The Brian and Surna Burton family watching the Albuquerque Hot Air Balloon Fiesta.

Experiencing the Balloon Fiesta

As you step onto the Balloon Field in the morning, prepare to be immersed in an unforgettable sensory experience. You'll stand just feet away from the balloons, witnessing the pilots and crews bustling around, unloading and preparing. There's cheerful chatter as crowds gather and children run around. The excitement in the air is palpable. And then, the enchantment unfolds. Before your eyes, massive balloons slowly unfurl, expanding and rising against the backdrop of the morning sky. Like giant creatures rousing from a deep slumber, or delicate butterflies emerging from their cocoons, they transform from crumpled fabric on the ground into towering figures effortlessly floating above you.

The anticipation builds as each balloon prepares for lift-off. The burners roar, the crew performs final checks. And then, suddenly, it's time to fly! You become a part of something special, something bigger than yourself. It's a sensory feast that leaves you buzzing with adrenaline and makes you feel like you're truly a part of this magical event, even if just for a day. The Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta is not just a visual spectacle, but an immersive experience that captivates your senses and transports you into the enchanting world of ballooning.

Tips for first-time Fiesta go-ers: 

  • If you're staying "off-site," arrive early (around 4:30-5:00 am) on Mass Ascension days to avoid getting stuck in traffic.
  • The weather can be unpredictable and impact balloon flights. Increase your chances of seeing them fly by going early and often during your stay.
  • For a more laid-back experience, attend the Evening Session with synchronized balloon inflation, drone shows, fireworks, and skydivers. While the balloons don't usually fly in the evening, this session still offers a lot!
  • Dress comfortably with layered clothing, closed-toe shoes, hats, and gloves. Mornings are brisk, but warm up quickly.
  • Bring chairs or blankets for a comfortable viewing experience, especially in the morning when the grass is wet.

Learn more about RVing at the Balloon Fiesta

Visit Event Page

Camping at the Balloon Fiesta in an RV!

We camped for six days at the VIP West campground, which is adjacent to the Balloon field. We loved stepping outside our RV to witness the action, avoiding long commutes, and having easy access to the festival grounds.

Our location was perfect for those early morning launches and, on the days when we fancied a slower start, we could relax at the campsite, sip our coffee, and still soak up the atmosphere and the balloons dotting the sky overhead.  We were able to explore the festival at our leisure and even hop back to our RV for meals or naps.

But RVing at the Balloon Fiesta is more than just accommodation. It's an opportunity to be part of a vibrant and welcoming RV community that shares our passion for adventure and travel. We not only witnessed the awesome sight of these colorful giants, but we also made connections with fellow RVers who were equally captivated by the festival. Camping at Balloon Fiesta made us feel like we were truly living and breathing the spirit of the festival.

Tips for RVing at Balloon Fiesta:

  • Check the Balloon Fiesta website and set a reminder for when campsites are released (typically in January or February) as they book up very quickly.
  • Keep in mind that most campsites at the Balloon field are "dry camping", so fill with fresh water before arriving and ensure your waste tanks are empty. Pump-out and water-fill services are available on-site for a fee. If you would like electricity, bring a generator or other power source.
  • Campsites are "rally style" so you'll be parked pretty close to your neighbors. Embrace the opportunity to make new friends and share in the excitement of Balloon Fiesta together!
  • Sites are not assigned in advance, so if you're coming with other RVs and want to camp next to each other, make sure you all arrive together during check-in.
  • Don't forget to bring comfortable chairs for lounging outside your RV and watching the balloons go by.

Surna Barton, her kids and their Coleman Travel Trailer at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

Balloon Fiesta with Kids

Taking your kids to the Balloon Fiesta is definitely a worthwhile experience! With vibrant balloons of unique shapes and designs filling the sky like confetti, the atmosphere is magical and will surely captivate them.

Our youngest was only 8 months old, but the pure joy on her face as she watched the balloons float through the sky is an image etched in my mind. Even now, when she sees an image of a hot air balloon, she giddily points and her eyes light up with delight. It's amazing what memories stick with our children, and I know this one will stay with ours for a long time.

Tips for a Fantastic Family Experience:

  • Plan your day with activities and shows designed for kids. Don't miss the kite-flying contests, wood-carving competitions, or Special Shapes Rodeo on "Kid's Day" to see amazing balloon shapes in action. Kids get a special goodie bag on Kid's Day, too!
  • Check out the Discovery Center, an interactive children’s museum at the festival with hands-on exhibits all about the world of ballooning!
  • Look for the tethered balloon rides specifically for kids. It’s a fun way for them to safely enjoy the thrill of flying in a balloon.
  • Expect crowds and darkness during the early morning and evenings. The whole experience can be thrilling but disorienting for kids. Discuss a plan in case anyone gets separated.
  • Make navigating easier for kids by bringing a wagon or stroller. It's also handy for carrying chairs, blankets, and other gear.
  • Fiesta offers a unique opportunity for kids to interact with balloon pilots and crews. Encourage kids to take pictures, ask for pilot's balloon cards, and participate in pin trading.
  • Engage kids in fun games like "I Spy",  count balloons, discuss favorites, and look for familiar characters or special-shaped balloons.

Whether you're watching from the ground or floating in a balloon, the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta is truly an immersive experience that captures the wonder of people of all ages. And here's the thing: the magic of the Balloon Fiesta isn't just in the balloons. It's in the community that shares a love for adventure, wonder, and appreciating the beauty all around us.

Visit The Fiesta

Immerse yourself in the magic at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.

RV Reservations and Information
The Barton family and their Coleman travel trailer at the Albuquerque Hot Air Balloon Fiesta.
Luna Barton and hot air balloons in the sky.

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