Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta 2014

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta 2014 (Photo by Len Radin, New Mexico Magazine)

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta (Photo by Len Radin, New Mexico Magazine)

Park A. Van Tassel, a local saloon owner, launched Albuquerque’s first hot-air balloon in 1882… Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta (AIBF), the largest celebration of its kind, offers a full nine days to explore ballooning from every perspective. No visitor should miss the iconic on-field experience, where some 500 orbs inflate to sizes of 80 feet before gliding skyward.. (New Mexico Magazine)

In an inspiring and decidedly lofty article in the recent edition of New Mexico Magazine Ashley M. Biggers offers up five “off the beaten path… fresh ways to take in the drama of the skies” during the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta (AIBF):

  1. Toast the Ascent “At the AIBF viewing parties held at the award-winning Gruet Winery, sparkling-wine enthusiasts can forgo the ride and get straight to the toast. Attendees sip mimosas and snack on scones, fruit, and other breakfast fare while watching the balloons drift over the vineyards… Viewing parties take place on Oct. 4, 10, and 11, beginning at 7 a.m. Tickets: $10 and up. 8400 Pan American Freeway NE; (505) 821-0055; gruetwinery.com
  2. Crew a Balloon “To get an insider’s look at all that it takes to fly a hot-air balloon, visitors can volunteer as crew members… simply come to Balloon Fiesta Park on the Wednesday through Friday prior to the fiesta to sign up… Volunteers receive a pass to attend the remaining fiesta events for free… Fill out the crew registration form found at registration.balloonfiesta.com, or call (505) 821-1000.”
  3. Float the Fiesta Enjoy an “early-morning kayak trip with Quiet Waters Paddling Adventures. Tours depart before daybreak… Away from the crowds, the only noise is the gentle flow of the current, paddles dipping into the water, and burners firing as the candycolored envelopes glide overhead.” (505) 771-1234; quietwaterspaddling.com
  4. VIP Breakfast Pamper yourself with traffic-free access, and a catered breakfast at the Diamond Club (Anderson-Abruzzo International Balloon Museum Foundation). “As the sun rises, visitors may choose to stay inside, viewing the festivities from floor-to-ceiling windows, or step out on the field-facing balcony to watch the balloons inflate and take off.” (505) 880-0500; balloonmuseum.com
  5. Pedal to Paseo del Bosque “The Bikes & Balloons tour… begins at 5:30 a.m. at Los Poblanos Historic Inn and Organic Farm, where Routes owners Josh Arnold and Heather Wess fit riders with bikes and helmets. Josh proves a worthy leader, carting breakfast burritos behind him to entice riders along Río Grande and Montaño boulevards to the Paseo del Bosque trail… there’s little to break the predawn calm other than the thrum of bike tires against the pavement… After watching the balloons take flight, riders set off on a leisurely return leg, marked by scenic views of the autumnal bosque and hot-air balloons dotting Albuquerque’s robin’s-egg-blue skies.” (505) 933-5667; routesrentals.com

All five options sound incredible! We missed the Balloon Fiesta this fall by a week, but we’re hoping to make it next year. What about you? It’s not too early to make plans since accommodations and many venues fill up early…

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