The following Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta packing list has been submitted by Cynthia Hoeppner. See all packing list posts here.
I’ve had the pleasure of attending the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta several times, even spending my thirtieth birthday there, and it’s a spectacular event. Seeing the balloons in every color against the brilliant blue sky is simply amazing, and well worth getting up early for. There are a few things you might want to bring to make the experience more enjoyable.
Layers are a must! It’s imperative to arrive at the park well before sunrise, and it’s cold. It is October, after all, and morning temperatures can be as low as the 40’s. The balloons begin at dawn, and continue until mid-morning. By the time you leave, it’s warmed up quite a bit. There are also evening events.
Pants – This is one trip where you might be justified bringing jeans. They’re warm enough for the early morning, and still comfortable in the afternoon. You’ll definitely want comfortable long pants.
Tops – A long-sleeved t-shirt (one per day), sweater or sweatshirt, and a warm jacket.
Shoes – I strongly recommend athletic shoes or other closed-toed shoes. You’re roaming around in the darkness with thousands of other people, and everyone’s looking up. Definitely don’t bring heels; you’ll be walking around on a grassy field throughout the event.
Socks and Gloves – Your hands and feet will get cold too!
Hats – A hooded jacket or a warm hat for the early morning hours, and a sun hat or baseball cap for later.
Underwear – Most people arrive on Friday night and depart on Sunday. One pair of underwear per day and one bra should be sufficient.
Aside from your normal travel-sized toiletries, the following is highly recommended.
Sunscreen, without question.
A female urinary device and hand sanitizer or baby wipes. The only available restrooms are port-a-potties and they’re being used by thousands of people. Need I say more? I would also say that if you’re going to use them in darkness, a headlamp might not be a bad idea.
A small backpack – to carry toiletries, a sun hat, a small purse, and to put layers in as you remove them.
A camera with a well-charged battery. – No joke, I saw a man taking pictures with his laptop. Then there are those, not mentioning any names (ahem), who might forget to charge the camera’s battery and have the battery die halfway through the event.
A power strip – to charge all of your electronics in your hotel room.
A camp chair – This is nice for the evening events, when you’ll be doing more sitting than walking around.
Alarm clock – You don’t want to oversleep, or you’ll miss the whole event!
Tips for Attending the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta
Driving to the fiesta is not easy. On my second trip, I got caught in a long line of cars on the freeway all trying to get into the balloon park through a single entrance, and nearly missed the balloons altogether. There are a number of Park and Rides around town where you can leave your car and catch a bus to the event. Information can be found at the event’s website here.
I would also recommend the Rio Grande Arts and Crafts Festival, which occurs the same weekends as the balloon fiesta. There is a huge variety and some wonderful pieces. I could have spent thousands there, if I had had thousands to spend.
Book a Viator Tour for Your Trip to Albuquerque
12pm – Public High Noon History, Legends & Lore Tour – Guided Old Town Stroll ↗
Rather than wandering around alone, explore Albuquerque’s Old Town in the company of someone who knows it best and can provide context.
Albuquerque Hot Air Balloon Ride at Sunrise ↗
Watch daylight appear above the Rio Grand Valley during a sunrise hot air balloon ride from Albuquerque, and see the first rays illuminate the rugged Sandia Mountains.
About the Author: Cynthia Hoeppner is a veteran of a lifetime of family road trips, an Appalachian Trail thru-hiker, and a fan of any activity that involves packing a suitcase.
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As a resident of Albuquerque, NM. I believe this is actually a very thorough list to pack for the Balloon Fiesta. Adding the park and ride tip is very thoughtful as the roads are always packed anywhere near the Fiesta grounds. One thing that might be helpful to add is, when you do decide to go to the Balloon Fiesta, book your hotel months to a year in advance since the balloonists book the best hotel rooms early. Since people come from all year around it fills up fast.
Cynthia D Hoeppner says
Thank you! Nice to get a thumbs-up from a local resident.
Adele Swensen says
Great suggestions! I have lived here most of my life, and I noticed that you mentioned a jacket- yes, sometimes it is around the 50’s in the morning, sometimes it is way below that. We even get rain or snow. That could happen in the morning or the evenings. Our weather here can change on a dime. Also if you have time, check out the tramway ride! Oh, and don’t forget to drink lots of water! Have fun!!
Can anybody recommend a good – nice hotel to stay when you go to the balloon fest – also is there any that are close enough to walk to the festival?