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What to Pack for the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

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Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

We had such an amazing time last year at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta we could not wait to return! We had planned to attend the event which starts this weekend, but ultimately due to schedule conflicts, we decided we would have to wait until next year to go back. However, that doesn’t mean a girl can’t help a fellow visitor out! Based on my experiences last year, I’ve put together a packing list for the fiesta. Don’t forget these items if you want to have a flawless trip!


The temperature can widely vary while you are in Albuquerque for the fiesta. Events start early and can go late, so you’ll want to wear light layers that aren’t too cumbersome to carry around. You’ll want a jacket and hat as well!


The Dawn Patrol Show starts every morning at 6 am in the dark. We arrived at 4-4:30 am to ensure we got a good parking spot. Also in the dark. If you want to see where you are going and not trip and fall over objects and other people then I highly recommend you bring a headlamp.

The headlamp I use is a Black Diamond Gizmo Headlamp. I’ve had it for use and used it for hiking, biking, and walking in the dark!

Portable chair

While you are waiting for the Dawn Patrol and after the Mass Ascension, there is an awful lot of waiting that takes place. There is a field of grass, a few picnic tables on the edges, but not much in terms of seating. Best thing to do is bring your own. As you will be on the move a lot, I recommend something portable.

I have the REI Flex Lite Chair which I have used to watch all kinds of events and very often while I am waiting for Mr. Misadventures to take sunrise or sunset photos!


Did I mention that Dawn Patrol takes place at 6 am? There are food concessions, but they aren’t open that early. It is also pretty darn cold in the morning so I highly recommend you bring your own hot beverage to keep you awake and warm!

I use a Zojirushi thermos we’ve had for years. We love this brand and have a Zojirushi rice cooker, bread maker and water boiler!


Once the sun comes up and the Mass Ascension starts you will be warm – wear layers! And with all the excitement you will forget to drink! The concession stands are on one edge of the field, so depending on where you end up watching balloons, you may not want to make the hike to get water, so bring your own! You are at 5000-feet and it is super dry therefore it easy for you to become quickly hydrated.

Lip balm

Again, 5000-feet in elevation and high winds – which is why it is such an amazing spot for the balloons, but it will wreak havoc on your lips! Make sure you have lip balm in your pockets and use it! My favorite La Roche Posay which they don’t sell in the U.S. so you will have to discover your own recommendation.


During the day it is usually bright and sunny. You are still in the desert. It’s the high desert, but the desert nonetheless. Besides protection from the sun’s rays, you should also have UV protection and this will help with windburn as well.

I use Kiehls Super Fluid UV Defense Sunscreen SPF 50+ which is the reason my legs still look like chicken legs even after making it through a Phoenix summer!

Cash only

The concession stands only take cash! There is an ATM but it occasionally runs out, so be prepared by bringing some with you. The merchandise tents do take credit cards, but you won’t be able to buy any food or drinks with a card.

That’s it! These are the things that would have made my life easier last year if I had packed them for the fiesta!

How about you? Have you attended the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta? Did I miss something you would recommend someone pack with them if they are going? How about suggestions for other balloon events? Do share!

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Kimberly Erin Davies

Wednesday 10th of October 2018

This sounds like a pretty cool festival, early morning and late nights can def be cold. I am similar to you in that I always bring a thermos to have full of hot water/coffee/tea to get through the day. Cash is a key for any festival I always find

Jenn and Ed Coleman

Monday 8th of October 2018

Layers are definitely key. The best ballooning is the early mass ascension and the night glow (IMHO), both of which are surprisingly cold. Cash is a great option too. You never know when you need to pick up something to eat or a pin.


Sunday 7th of October 2018

These are really useful tips, especially the cash only one! I haaate getting stuck without cash when it's the only thing places accept (as I basically never have cash on me!). And the balloon fiesta itself looks really fun and colorful! I've never been to one but I nearly went to the one in Bristol last year. This coming year Albuquerque will be a bit closer for me!


Sunday 7th of October 2018

I've always wanted to go to a balloon festival, but I know they can be long and grueling. This is such a helpful list! Having the things you need to be comfortable really make the difference between having a good time and being completely miserable.

Cat Lin

Saturday 6th of October 2018

Andi, this is such a great list! Those are things I would never have thought of bringing! And small things like not having lip balm and suffering from dry lips can sometimes ruin your mood on a trip. Once I had bleeding lips and that's all I worried about (instead of enjoying the moments).