Featured Image Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta with kids

Albuquerque, New Mexico hosts the world renowned Balloon Fiesta annually. Make sure to catch the action October 7-15, 2023 as hundreds of vibrant hot balloons take over the sky at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta 2023!

From logistics, to food, to other nearby attractions, here is how to get the most out of your bucket list adventure! Number 6 is a game changer.

1. Brace yourself for potential cancellations at Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta 2023

First things first, it is crucial to allow for a Plan B date! Do not book tickets on your last day in town. The balloons only take off if weather conditions are just right for everyone’s safety. The day we planned to go ended up being cancelled due to less than ideal wind conditions, so we luckily had another day in town and could shift our plans.

There are no refunds for your tickets on bad weather days. Mentally prepare for the fact that sometimes they need to cancel at the very last minute. We had already parked, shuttled, and arrived at 4:45am on the grounds when we found out we’d have to return the next day. Don’t let this bum you out when you visit the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta 2023 with kids.

2. Wear waterproof shoes

Bring jackets as well. It was far colder than I expected in the morning, but it warms quickly causing dew on the grassy field. My feet were damp the first half of the day.

Make sure to wear waterproof shoes or sandals for better comfort.

3. Check the schedule for mass ascensions

Be sure to attend on a day when a mass ascension is scheduled. This is typically weekends and one weekday.

4. Carry in a cooler to save money and avoid concession lines

Food and beverages can be carried into the festival, just no glass or alcohol! This carry in allowance is so helpful with little kids so you can carry in their preferred snacks and milk. Plus, you can save a fortune on concessions and avoid the lines.

5. Check out the Canon Camera tent

They loan out lenses on a first come first serve basis. Stop by and see if one is available at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta 2023. If not, take some time to chat with the experts for great photo advice and even a free mirrorless or DSLR cleaning!

This is something we didn’t know until the last hour we spent at the festival and it is an outstanding offering.

Not only will your photos turn out phenomenal, but the loans are FREE! It’s a brilliant marketing campaign on their part. I know my husband left ready to upgrade his SLR.

6. Pack Walkie Talkies for your group

Our cell signals were bogged down from the crowds and the walkie talkie provided instantaneous communication if we had to split up our group.

7. Bring a Power Bank

The continual photos and videos you’ll want to capture are sure to drain your phone battery. Make sure you have a fully loaded Power Bank to plug in at the festival.

8. Follow Balloon Fiesta’s social media accounts to stay up to date

Check out the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta 2023 social media posts before you head toward the festival each day to find out if there are any delays or cancellations.

9. Bring an All-Terrain Stroller or Wagon

If you’re bringing a young child, make sure to bring a stroller or wagon with large wheels. The even has some gravel/paved areas but to walk amongst the balloons you’ll want something you can easily push across the grassy fields.

Having a stroller or wagon will also serve you well in the morning to allow your child some extra sleep after lifting them from bed at 3:30am.

10. Weigh the Pros and Cons of Parking Onsite vs. Shuttle

We used the shuttle one day and paid for onsite parking the next. Here are some benefits and downsides of each option.

The shuttle was super convenient in the morning, the parking lot and loading of the busses was straightforward and efficient. But when we were ready to leave, we waited in line with a fussy toddler almost an hour to take the return shuttle.

The next day, we opted to pay the $20 to park onsite and walk onto the grounds. Our onsite parking spot was worth the money for ease of heading out. Parking is first come, first served and cash only.

Our recommendation: If I return again with kids, I’d splurge for the onsite parking so it’s easier to leave on our (kids’) schedule.

Six Things to do Near the Albuquerque Balloon Festival

Add some variety to your Albuquerque, New Mexico trip by exploring these nearby attractions.

11. Sandia Peak Tramway

Wow your kids with an excursion up Sandia Peak via a cable tram! The views are stunning and the ride is memorably unique.

Save time in line by booking online in advance. (It was a two hour wait when we arrived midday on the weekend of the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta.)

12. Petroglyph Park

These sacred symbols were humbling to see up close and research what the depictions are believed to represent. With a very short walk you can see 100 petroglyphs! With a 1.5 mile loop you’ll see 400! This made it an easy spot to explore with kids.

There is little to no shade in the park, so plan a visit early in the morning or late in the day.

There is no cost to visit this National Monument.

13. Shop and Dine in Downtown Albuquerque

From souvenir shopping to fine art, you’ll find an enthralling variety of stores to browse downtown.

Their downtown area has been famous since the heyday of Route 66 and is currently undergoing millions of dollars of improvements.

14. Immerse Yourself in All Things Ballooning at the Albuquerque Balloon Museum

Get a behind the scenes look at all the art, science, and sport that goes into piloting a Hot Air Balloon with a visit to the Albuquerque Balloon Museum. Learn about ballooning’s history and significance in Albuquerque too!

Santa Fe, New Mexico is an easy day’s activity to add to your Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta 2023 trip

Santa Fe is just one hour northeast of Albuquerque and if you have to spare, it is worth a day trip!

15. Embrace Weirdness at Meow Wolf

Start your day full of energy at the unimaginably creative (and mind-bending) art installation called Meow Wolf.

You could easily spend a half day exploring the nooks and crannies of the building. The ‘portal’ if you will looks like a normal house, but look closer and you’ll step into other worlds. Walk through the fireplace and you might end up in the ice age, playing a musical skeleton of a whale. It was all so captivating and there’s so much hands on fun for little ones too!

16. Downtown Santa Fe

Wander the Santa Fe Plaza and surrounding blocks downtown. Aztec influence is everywhere you look making the city streets a sight in themselves. Don’t miss the beautiful Romanesque Saint Francis Cathedral.

If you’re in town for lunch or dinner, grab a meal at La Plazuela At La Fonda.

There you have it! Sixteen things to know before you head to the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta 2023 with kids! We had 2.5 days in Albuquerque and 1 day in Santa Fe and it felt just right.

Save for Later!

Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta 2023

Have any more tips for attending the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta 2023 with Kids? Drop them in the comments below!


  1. Great suggestion. It would click to anyone to wear waterproof footwears. It is good that you included that here.

  2. Oh this brought back some memories for me, many years ago I visited New Mexico and saw the Balloons go up and it is still my favourite state to visit loved this.

  3. I love hot-air Balloons & the mass ascension sounds very colourful & fun to watch! Thanks so much for sharing your tips & gorgeous photos!

  4. My dream is to attend this NM balloon festival but it is so expensive. But it does motivate me to book a balloon ride soon. Great guide.

  5. […] You can even pay to go up in some of the balloons, but plan on paying an upwards of $100/person for the experience. The Albuquerque Balloon Festival is a site you cannot miss when visiting Albuquerque. It is an especially good activity to do with kids. […]

    1. The rides would be something else while at the festival, surrounded by a sky polka dotted with colored balloons!

      Book way in advance!

  6. […] attended the world renowned festival in Albuquerque and I’ll tell you – this event gives you all the feels for a fraction of the effort and […]

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