OK. So you’ve read our other four posts showing the glorious skies over Albuquerque filled with colorful balloons, and you really, really want to see this phenomenal event for yourself. But bear with us as we bring reality to you: Not all sessions at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta have successful lift-offs. We know it’s sad. But it happens.
We attended two afternoon sessions only to leave both of them with no balloons in flight anywhere. Here’s the deal. Balloon Fiesta officials fly a flag on Main Street. Green means all conditions are favorable for lift-off. Yellow means something may be afoot, and you need to watch the weather carefully. Red, however, indicates the whole event — well the balloon part, at least — is a No Go. Weather happens, you see: high winds, rain, you name it — safety comes first in launching balloons, and we respect that.
So, what do you do at Balloon Fiesta when balloons don’t fly? Well, as it turns out — a lot! Here are some first-hand activities that we enjoyed balloons or no balloons.
1. Watch strong guys carve wood. The AIBF Chainsaw Carvers Invitational sets up at the end of Main Street. And if seeing hot, tired, on-their-feet-all-day creative carvers isn’t enough, you can also bid for one of their wood creations. From bears to eagles to New Mexico balloons, it’s a sight worth seeing!
2. Pose for pictures. Let your kid be an astronaut or be a kid yourself and gather round these strategically placed boards throughout the park. After all, you know you want to send Facebook pics to the folks back home!
3. Buy something. Big tents hold the latest t-shirts as well as key chains, pens, and patches to sew on your blue jean jacket. And most of the stuff you can put on right there in the makeshift dressing rooms and wear out to the field!
4. Zipline above the crowd. The ZipIt crew will strap you in and send you off into the clouds. They won’t, however, hold your hand. You’re on your own for that!
5. Walk on water. Looked like fun to us, but don’t ask us for a first-hand testimonial. You climb in a big see-through ball and roll around in a water-filled pit. Fun for some. Or at least it sounded like it!
6. Be entertained. With a big stage and ground-thumping sound system, you can pretty much hear the line-up of musicians all over the area. And see the live screencast from the field.
7. Collect pins. Now, I normally don’t take pics of people’s chests, but Bernadine was quite proud of all the commemorative pins she had collected over the years. In fact, as of October 2014 she hadn’t missed a single Balloon Fiesta!
8. Eat hearty. We love festivals, hometown celebrations, and anything local where you can find foods of the area. We don’t know if The Hot Boat and a Lotaburger qualify as gourmet samplings or even a representative taste of New Mexico, but we wanted to try them anyway!
9. Thank the folks in charge. At every turn, there were police officers, paramedics, volunteers, etc., who made sure Balloon Fiesta was safe for the thousands of onsite visitors, hoping for a good time and nothing more.
10. Watch the weather. As we said before, weather conditions change rapidly. On one of the afternoons we were there, the flag changed from green to yellow to red in just a couple of hours. And you never know, you may make be lucky enough to catch a rainbow.
Best wishes for great lift-offs while you’re at Balloon Fiesta. But if balloons don’t rise, just know this: you’ve got lots of options!
For more information:
Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta: http://www.balloonfiesta.com/
For information on getting a refund when weather cancels a session, go here.
If you’ve been to Balloon Fiesta, let us know what you liked best. And if you want to read our other posts, check ’em out here: