|When is Balloon Fiesta?|
|What is Balloon Fiesta?|
The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is an annual October festival that takes place in New Mexico. It was first launched in 1972 with just 13 participants. Today, more than 500 balloons take to the skies over Albuquerque each year, making the Balloon Fiesta the largest event of its kind worldwide. Preparations begin before the sun comes up, as the Dawn Patrol tests the air and weather above the city. They try to locate a specific wind pattern called the "Albuquerque Box" that features wind blowing in opposite directions in the lower and upper layers of the airspace. Flying in the box allows balloons to take off, travel in one direction, then rise higher to return in the opposite direction and land near their starting point.
At the start of the fiesta, more than 100,000 viewers watch the inflation and takeoff procedures. Countless spectators gather throughout the city and surrounding areas to watch balloons land. The fiesta features a number of activities and contests including races. There is also a "special shape rodeo" for balloons that look like animals or everyday objects and a nighttime "glowdeo" featuring lighted balloons. Art exhibits and competitions also feature prominently at the Balloon Fiesta, including a chainsaw carving exhibit featuring sculptures from artists in the U.S. and Canada.