ALBUQUERQUE, NMThe 2009 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta “Mass Happiness,” launching October 3-11, is bringing hot air balloonists and tourists from around the globe to Albuquerque, New Mexico ( The 38th annual Balloon Fiesta ( will feature 550 registered hot air and gas balloons and 650 balloon pilots representing 17 countries and 37 states. Every October, during these nine days, Albuquerque’s city population nearly doubles from the more than 800,000 visitors attending the world-renowned event.

Registered pilots from 17 countries include Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Croatia, France, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Mexico, New Zealand, Poland, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, United Kingdom, and the United States of America.

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, which is unlikely in most other places due to the lack of ability to steer a balloon.

During the festival, the New Mexico skies are filled with color as hundreds of balloons float over Albuquerque ( - 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.  Visitors and locals enjoy the spectacle of Mass Ascensions, Balloon Glows, AfterGlow fireworks, and hot air and gas balloon competitions.

Balloon Fiesta attendees can also check out professional chainsaw carvers creating beautiful art out of wood, and hundreds of booths offering arts and crafts from across the country and an array of fantastic festival food and local cuisine including a variety of New Mexican breakfast burritos.

For more information on Balloon Fiesta, visit, and for information on Albuquerque, visit