Albuquerque, NM – The 2012 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta® is right around the corner, but hotel rooms are still available. Hot air balloonists and spectators alike will come together in joyful expectation as more than 500 balloons launch for nine days from Balloon Fiesta Park in New Mexico’s largest city. The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta® takes place in the Hot Air Balloon Capital of the World each October, this year taking place from October 6-14, 2012. Act now to take advantage of hotel deals and travel packages during the festival, especially mid-week.

Now is the time to visit – Albuquerque has recently been touted by Fox News as one of “11 spectacular vacations you should book right now,” a Top U.S. Value Destination for 2012 and one of 15 Destinations on the Rise by TripAdvisor. In addition, National Geographic recently called the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta one of the Best Fall Trips for 2012.

For nine days Albuquerque skies will be filled with unique colors and shapes as 500+ balloons float over the city’s fascinating high desert landscape. Pilots from around the world thrive in Albuquerque’s unique fall weather and take advantage of the “Albuquerque box” – a combination of upper and lower level winds created by the Rio Grande Valley and enhanced by the Sandia Mountains. The box enables balloonists to sometimes backtrack their flight path and land close to their launch site.

Evening events delight as spectators gather around inflated balloons on the field for choreographed Balloon Glows to walk amongst gigantic character balloons of all shapes and sizes. Fireworks and tasty fair foods make for a perfect family outing. Event tickets start at just $8 per event.

In addition to the daily hot air balloon spectacle, six teams will compete in the America’s Challenge Gas Balloon Race across the country throughout the week. The distance competition typically lasts more than two days of flying and frequently covers more than 1,000 miles. Learn more about the six teams from three countries.

The Balloon Fiesta not only provides a treat for your eyes but also encourages visitors to experience the local cuisine, art, and culture of the Southwest. In addition to the Fiesta, events will be taking place throughout the city after ballooning events are over to allow visitors to experience more of the Central New Mexico region including a brew fest, chocolate festival, museum exhibits, harvest festivals and much more. Learn more about accompanying events here.

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Photo Credit: Ron Behrmann