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The Largest Hot Air Balloon Festival In The World

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Every year, hot air balloon enthusiasts, photographers, and spectators from around the world come to Albuquerque, New Mexico for the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.  The nine-day event is celebrated during early October.  More than 500 balloonists participate every year, making it the largest balloon festival in the world.

Mr. Bup Has Very Soft Hands.
photo by Erick Ward /FlickrWikimediaCC BY-SA 2.0

The festival started in 1972 as part of the highlights of the 50th birthday celebration of radio station 770 KOB.  Sid Cutter, the first person to own the a hot air balloon in New Mexico, was asked by KOB manager Dick McKee if they could use his new balloons.  They agreed to use 19 balloons for the festival, only to limit it to 13 later due to bad weather.

2002 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta
photo by Joe Ross/FlickrCC BY-SA 2.0

The balloon fiesta peaked in 2000, with 1019 entrants.  Due to congestion, the board limited the number of participants down to 750 for the purpose of “quality over quantity”.  Eventually, they reduced the entrants again to 600 in 2009 due to landing space limits.

Special Shapes
photo by John Flower/FlickrCC BY 2.0


More than 700,000 spectators visit the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta every year.  It’s no wonder then that this festival is also one of the most photographed events in the world, according to Albuquerque.

Video: Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta 2015

video: S Bryan/YouTube

Sources: WikipediaAlbuquerque