Every year, the world’s largest hot air balloon festival transforms Albuquerque’s blue skies into a colorfully speckled canvas.
Fittingly, the theme of this year’s International Balloon Fiesta is “Desert Kaleidoscope,” and the fun isn’t reserved solely for the skies.
The adventurers in the group can take to the skies for a balloon ride with Rainbow Ryders hot air balloon company. Rides carrying more than 900 self-described “balunatics” lift off from on and around Balloon Fiesta Park—so whether you’re seeking a VIP ride for the top performers in your group (which includes escorts to the morning ascension at the park, breakfast from local bakers and chefs, and a Q&A with the balloon pilot) or just looking to add a bit of “wow” to your program, Rainbow Ryders has you covered.
Watch From the International Balloon Museum
Groups can also watch the balloons take flight, food and drink in hand, from the glass gallery of the Anderson-Abruzzo International Balloon Museum. The creative balloon-filled venue, which has Skybox rental space available during Fiesta and is available for buyouts at other times, also has an outdoor balcony for capturing the perfect selfie or group photo. Admission to the museum during Fiesta time can also be combined with breakfast or a “Dine & Glow” dinner.
Prep With a Canon Photography Class & Tips
As presenter and the main sponsor of Fiesta, Canon has its own agenda leading up to Fiesta that includes a number of photography tips from Ken Sklute, one of digital imaging giant’s designated “Explorers of Light.” Rated a top photographer worldwide, Sklute is offering a number of how-to articles for professionals and amateurs—from capturing the glow and fireworks to using time-lapse to create moving images. Separately, Canon also offers a number of “Live Learning” workshop and programs where groups can perfect their craft alongside explorers in various locations throughout the world.
Stay in Proximity to the Festival
Groups visiting Albuquerque will have no shortage of meetings hotels to hang their hats. The 295-room Sheraton Albuquerque Uptown Hotel, which received a $25 million revamp in recent years, hosts anywhere from five to 900 attendees and is in close proximity to the balloon festival, or the Crowne Plaza Albuquerque, also in proximity to the Fiesta and a multitude of other cultural draws, and whose largest meeting space hosts up to 1,000 attendees. Smaller groups should check out the Los Poblanos Historic Inn & Organic Farm, a working organic farm set among 25 acres of vibrant lavender fields. Here, they can experience workshops on cultivating lavender and aromatherapy, as well as a variety of classes, demos and tours. And aside from top-notch organic dining, seasonal lavender dining events are also the pièce de résistance.
Last year’s International Balloon Fiesta drew nearly 1 million visitors to the city over the nine-day event held early October, with an economic impact of over $177 million.
For more ideas on New Mexico event planning, check out “A Soulful Sanctuary Awaits New Mexico Incentive Groups.”