See the mass ascension of balloons and stand in awe during the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta, the largest ballooning event in the world and one of New Mexico’s most dazzling spectacles. On this Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta Tour you will experience the pre-dawn opening ceremonies and the unforgettable mass ascension of hundreds of hot-air balloons, where the sky transforms into a rainbow of colors. In the evening, see the dramatic Balloon Glow, when all the balloons fire up their burners and light up at the same time. Plus in addition during our vacation we marvel at and tour The Garden of the Gods & Great Sand Dunes National Park.
Photo Credit: Bennie Bos
The Balloon festival is certainly a sight to behold for all ages and for information purposes, each day is broken down mainly into morning and evening programmes each offering a different perspective.
Dawn Patrol: The Dawn Patrol began at Balloon Fiesta in 1978, when two California balloonists developed position lighting systems that allowed them to fly at night. Dawn Patrol pilots take off in the dark and fly until it is light enough to see landing sites. Fellow balloonists appreciate the Dawn Patrol because they can watch the balloons and get an early idea of wind speeds and directions at different altitudes. On mass ascension days, about a dozen Dawn Patrol balloons perform the Dawn Patrol Show, a choreographed inflation and launch set to music that has been part of the Balloon Fiesta since 1996. Dawn Patrol inflations begin, weather permitting, at about 5:45 AM, with launch around 6:00 AM.
Mass Ascension: A launch of all the participating balloons have been a feature of Balloon Fiesta since its earliest days and is the most spectacular display of sound and color in all of aviation. During mass ascensions, balloons launch in two waves. Launch directors, also known as zebras because of their black-and-white-striped outfits, serve as traffic cops, coordinating the launch so balloons leave the field in a safe and coordinated manner. Weather permitting, balloons begin to launch at about 7:00 AM on mass ascension days, led by a balloon flying the American flag to the strains of The Star Spangled Banner.
AfterGlow™ Fireworks: Seeing the balloons glowing en mass is a great experience that gets greater with the after glow fireworks.
Food Services at the Festival: The Balloon Fiesta is a full-on fair, with tents offering all types of food. Part of the Fiesta fun is walking along the park's Main Street, where concessions spots provide countless sweet and savory treats, alongside merchandise tents. Local favorites at this year's Balloon Fiesta include Blake's Lotaburger, Funnel Cake of New Mexico, the Hatch Chile Shack, and Mac's Steak in the Rough. Don't worry, there's plenty of coffee too. New Mexico Piñon Coffee is the official coffee sponsor of the Balloon Fiesta. One last thing about food: Have you had a New Mexican breakfast burrito? If not, add it to your bucket list.
Day 1: Black Hills to Colorado Springs – 482 miles
Our journey today takes us south to Colorado Springs with regular stops made for meals and comfort breaks.
Overnight Colorado Springs – Supper included
Day 2: Colorado Springs to Alburquerque – 390 miles
After breakfast we continue our journey in a southerly direction and arrive into Albuquerque late afternoon. After check in it is time for supper and a relaxing evening and an early night as tomorrow you will be up VERY EARLY!
Overnight Alburquerque – Breakfast and Supper included
Day 3: Balloon Festival
Please remember… this is a very casual event and dress in ‘layers’ as the early morning air can be ‘chilly’…. Today is full of excitement and visual splendor…Albuquerque’s International Balloon Fiesta is your opportunity to experience one of the world’s most photographed events. Watch as the balloons launch in two remarkable waves. It’s one of the most spectacular displays of sound and color in all of aviation. After an early morning, enjoy some time to relax back at the hotel before we return to the Balloon Festival to This evening, catch the popular ‘Balloon Glow’ where all balloons fire up their burners and light up at the same time, and the amazing it’s the ‘After-Glow’ Fireworks Show. Return to hotel for overnight.
Overnight Alburquerque – No Meals included
Photo Credit: Victor Banta
Day 4: Balloon Festival (Morning) afternoon Sightseeing
This is the last morning of the Festival and we have three main events…6.00am – The Dawn Patrol Show
6.30am – Krispy Kreme Morning Glow 7.00am – Laser Light Show 8.30am to 11AM – Farewell Mass Ascension. This afternoon, we take a tour of Albuquerque visiting Old Town and then the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. This fascinating museum and crafts market collectively run by the 19 New Mexico pueblos (villages). Here, you will learn about the history, background, and life of what now comprise the 19 pueblos of New Mexico. Returning to the hotel for overnight.
Overnight Alburquerque – No Meals included
Day 5: Albuquerque to Santa Fe, NM – 65 miles
After breakfast it’s time to say ‘adios’ to Albuquerque and head to Santa Fe. We venture off the freeway and onto the ‘Turquoise Trail National Scenic Byway. The Scenic and Historic Area encompasses 15,000 square miles in the heart of central New Mexico, linking Albuquerque and Santa Fe. The drive is approximately 50 miles along Highway 14. Enjoy a breathtaking view from atop Sandia Crest, then drive back into history through the mining towns of Golden, Madrid, and Cerrillos, now coming alive with art, crafts, theater, music, museums and restaurants.
Overnight Santa Fe – Breakfast and Supper included
Day 6: Santa Fe – Full day Touring
A more leisurely morning today and after breakfast we embark on a full days touring of this amazing part of the USA.
Overnight Santa Fe – Breakfast included
Day 7: Santa Fe / Great San Dunes/ Pueblo – 337 miles
After breakfast we leave Santa Fe behind and head towards Pueblo. Today we see Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve - these are the tallest dunes in North America. The park and preserve contain ecosystems ranging from wetlands to forest to tundra - each supporting specially adapted plant, animal and insect life. We continue our journey on to Pueblo. Pueblo has changed over time, steel mills giving way to the Riverwalk and family cafes joined by upscale restaurants. Today, the city is a thriving town that values culture and arts as well as livestock shows and hot-rod expos.
Overnight Pueblo, CO – Breakfast and Supper included
Day 8: Pueblo / Garden of The Gods / Cheyenne – 240 miles
Just an hour north of Pueblo is the Garden of The Gods which is a registered National Natural Landmark. Imagine dramatic views, 300' towering sandstone rock formations against a backdrop of snow-capped Pikes Peak and brilliant blue skies. This world-class Visitor & Nature Center and museum is the most visited attraction in the region with all new interactive exhibits. Learn how the amazing red rocks got there with the NEW Geo-Trekker theater experience, shown every 20 minutes. Delight in one of Colorado's most photographed views while eating in our glass-enclosed café or from our terrace overlooking Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods. We then continue our journey north to Cheyenne, WY for overnight.
Overnight Cheyenne, WY – Breakfast & Farewell Supper included
Day 9: Cheyenne to Rapid City, SD – 320 miles
After a leisurely breakfast we continue our journey back to Hot Springs & the Black Hills arriving mid-afternoon.
Starts: Thursday October 11th 2018
Ends: Friday October 19th 2018
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