From a small gathering of 13 balloons in 1972, the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta
has grown to become the largest balloon event in the world. Held each year during the first week in October, the Balloon Fiesta now attracts almost 600 balloons and 1000 pilots.
The first gathering of 13 balloons in 1972 was held in the parking lot of Coronado Center Mall in Albuquerque. The following year, 13 countries took part in the 'First World Hot Air Balloon Championship', the world's largest ballooning event, held at the New Mexico State Fairgrounds. By 1978 Albuquerque was playing host to 273 entries. The number of balloons steadily increased, with 600 in 1988 and 903 balloons in 1999. The organizers of the Balloon Fiesta
registered over 1000 balloons in the year 2000.
In 1972 there were about 10,000 guests that viewed the first Balloon Fiesta.
Hundreds of thousands of guest visit Balloon Fiesta each year, and hundreds of thousands more fans watch the balloons from outlying areas and on TV. In order to accommodate the increases in balloons and guests, the Balloon Fiesta’s
home field has grown from a corner in a mall parking lot, to its present home, a permanent site which is more than 350 acres.
The Balloon Fiesta has not only grown in numbers of balloons and guests but in the number of unique events as well. In addition to the spectacular Mass Ascensions, the Balloon Fiesta has added the annual Balloon Glow, the Night Magic Glow™, and the Special Shape Rodeo™. These additions have grown to become guest favorites. In order to preserve the magic of these spectacular events, it is estimated that more than 25 million still photographs are taken of the Balloon Fiesta
, repeatedly earning it the title “the world’s most photographed event.”