Hot air balloonists from around the globe convene each October at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta in . The 2008 event takes place October 4-12, 2008.
Celebrating its 37th year, the Balloon Fiesta will attract about 800,000 guests and 650 balloons from around the world. With 1,000 pilots and their crews participating in morning mass ascensions and evening balloon glows, the awe-inspiring sights are continuous throughout the week.
This year marks the 225th anniversary of hot air balloon flights. Ballooning has come a long way from the first “flying machines” in in 1783, which flew a duck, a rooster and a lamb in a smoke-filled balloon. The first human passengers were carried 3,000 feet on November 21, 1783.
One of the signature events during Balloon Fiesta this year will be the launch of the Coupe Aeronautique Gordon Bennett gas balloon race. When ’s legendary team of Richard Abruzzo and Dr. Carol Rymer Davis won the 48th event in 2005, they secured arrival of this prestigious event on soil for the first time since 1999. The 49th race will take place in for the fourth time launching on October 4th at 6pm. The Gordon Bennett race is the premier gas balloon distance race, which attracts some of the most experienced and distinguished pilot teams from around the world - including Great Britain, ,
For nine days every October, the New Mexico skies are filled with color as hundreds of balloons float over . No wonder it’s one of the most photographed events in the world. For balloon pilots worldwide, the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is a pilgrimage. There is excitement and adventure to be found both in the air and on the ground. Hundreds of balloons launch from 72 grass-covered acres at each morning. Bees enjoying the spectacle of Mass Ascensions, Balloon Glows, AfterGlow fireworks, and exciting hot air and gas balloon competitions, professional chainsaw carvers create beautiful art out of wood, and hundreds of booths offer a taste of local cuisine and arts and crafts from across the country.