This is an absolute must for anyone who’d love to be engulfed in a sea of colorful and eccentric shaped hot air balloons. How can you not feel like a kid again when you’re surrounded by giant blobs of vibrant colors?
If my attempt at an enthusiastic introduction hasn’t persuaded you allow me to recount my visit to the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.
When: Early October
When Do All the Balloons Go Up: 7:00am (Mass Ascension)
Entry Fee: $8.00
Parking Fee: $10.00
What Time Should You Plan to Arrive: 4:00am (weekends)
The Balloon Fiesta is a nine day festival held annually in early October in Albuquerque, New Mexico and it’s a huge deal there! If you’re road tripping like I was, your car’s radio airwaves will sure to pick up commercials telling you to go check it out and there will be signs everywhere telling you how to get there and where to park. Usually the overflow of ads annoy me, but this was the case with this city. It’s actually very nice to see a city come together and get so excited about flying a herd of hot air balloons.
I arrived in Albuquerque just in time for Day 1 of the festival –and it was packed (almost as crowded as San Diego Comic Con!) All the balloons get ready to go up for Mass Ascension at 7:00am. Knowing that my friend that I was traveling with and I left our Airbnb around 4:00am to seize close parking and to find a spot to admire the balloons.
For anyone visiting on the weekend, I can assure you waking up early is worth it. We saw some cars park at least five city blocks away from the festival’s entry point.
This event has been on my photo bucket list for a while now. And for anyone else wanting to add a flock of balloons chilling against New Mexico’s gorgeous skies I recommend bringing a camera that has good low-light performance and a general walking around zoom lens —24-70mm range. I discovered that you’re going to want a wide-angle for the obvious shot of the Mass Ascension in addition to photographing the balloons while they were getting ready for lift off on the ground. They’re just that big (that’s what she said :X.) If you want to grab a close up shot of a balloon in the air a 70-200mm would be handy.
Or if you want to go minimalist you could get away with using a 35mm lens. I used a Sony Zeiss 35mm/1.4 coupled with the Sony A7r II. For close up shots I pushed the 35mm lens to a 52.5 mm using the camera’s Super 35mm crop mode.
Hope you guys get to experience this event next year! Adventure on ~ Melly
Sony Zeiss 35mm/1.4
Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta – balloonfiesta.com