The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is a magical time for the city of Albuquerque, and many from all over the world come to the Balloon Fiesta Park to see more than 600 balloons in flight from Oct. 1-9.
Events can start as early as 5:45 a.m., and many residents in the city end up skipping the festivities and shows because work and family obligations, traffic issues and the early hour can make it a daunting task for many Burquenos to attend.
This list of watch parties gives residents the ability to see the morning mass ascensions in style with breakfast and mimosas with spectacular views from a far, as well as local pocket locations worth watching from instead of fighting the fiesta traffic. Usually one of the best voted views in Albuquerque would be at the Bien Shur Sandia Resort and Casino rooftop restaurant, but the restaurant is closed for renovations this year.
Gruet Winery Saturday, Oct. 5
8400 Pan American Freeway NE #1832
Experience the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta with front row seats and a gourmet breakfast at Gruet Winery starting at 7 a.m., complete with an omelet station, croissants, freshly baked muffins, seasonal fruit, applewood-smoked bacon, potatoes, hot cocoa, coffee and mimosas. Dress warm as this event is held outdoors and mornings are starting to chill. Reservations are required, and seating is first-come first-serve.
Tin Can Alley Oct. 2-3 and Oct. 9-10
6110 Alameda Blvd. NE
Santa Fe Brewing Co. will be hosting parties both weekends at 7 a.m., offering beer, mimosas and Bloody Mary’s with breakfast burrito options . Lunch service starts at 10 a.m.
Hyatt Tamaya Resort
1300 Tuyuna Trail
The Tamaya Resort has wide-open views from Rio Rancho to the Sandias, and the Ballon Fiesta balloons can be seen far and wide from the patio and veranda views. The resort also has two options for food with the Rio Grande Lounge and Santa Ana Cafe.
North Domingo Baca Park
Carmel Ave. NE
North Domingo Baca is an open space near the Balloon Fiesta Park, offering full scope of the hundreds of balloons during mass ascension. It’s a great spot to take a breakfast picnic for the picturesque views.
Vista Del Norte Park
1005 Osuna Road NE
This park, like NDB, is a landing area for many balloons and is also far away enough from the event to avoid the more intense traffic in the area.
Los Ranchos/Journal Center Rail Runner Station
101 El Pueblo Road NE
Oddly enough, it is recommended by commuters and nearby residents to check out the ascensions from the Journal Center Rail Runner Train station just near Paseo del Norte, as there is ample parking and seating.
On the river in a kayak
MST Adventures offers special balloon viewing kayaking and paddle board tours during the fiesta. This one-of-a-kind experience is $149 person person and allows groups of 12 or less. Transport back is included in the price. The tours are limited to the first weekend of the fiesta, so reservations must be made in advance. For more information, click the link here.
Bosque Trail at Rio Grande Nature Center
2901 Candelaria Road NW
Balloons can be seen from anywhere along the Bosque, but from the Rio Grande Nature Center, the scenic views are photo-worthy with the Sandias and river to compliment any mass ascension. It also offers some great walking along the Bosque fall foliage and fresh morning air.
The ultimate views of the city and fiesta can be seen at the Sandia Crest. Although the tram is not open until 9 a.m., the tramway is a popular destination for tourists, including the TEN 3 restaurant during balloon season, so buying advance tickets is suggested. For more information, click here.