by Nigell Kenninsgton
During the first week of October, magical desert sunsets are overshadowed by a parade of colors at the annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.  

Started almost fifty years ago, the festival lifted off with just 13 balloons and today has ballooned (pun intended) to almost 600 crafts from around the world.   Favorable weather patterns and temperatures known as "Albuquerque Box" enable pilots better landing conditions making this Southwestern city ideal. 

The 78-acre Balloon Fiesta Park is the launching pad for these hot air wonders in both their traditional form to more alternative designs.  Thousands of spectators descend annually with an estimated 25 million photos taken throughout the nine day festival making it the most photographed event in the world.

The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta  | 4401 Alameda Blvd NE, Albuquerque, NM 87113