Balloon Fiesta, Balloon Museum – What’s the Difference?

You’ll come across different names and terms when planning your visit to the world’s largest ballooning event. It might get confusing! To help clarify, here is a list of the primary locations and organizations you’ll hear mentioned in the hope of helping you make the best decisions for this experience of a lifetime. 

Balloon Fiestaboth an event and an organization, is the common name for the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta®. The organization is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit whose mission is:

To conduct the world’s premier ballooning event while renewing friendships and promoting camaraderie among all participants and promoting the sport of ballooning, the City of Albuquerque and the State of New Mexico, nationally and internationally.

The non-profit organization also conducts the 9-day event of the same name annually, beginning the first Saturday of October through the following Sunday. With offices and gift shops located at the entry to Balloon Fiesta Park, people often confuse them with the Balloon Museum!

Balloon Fiesta Park is a 360-acre city park, which is part of the City of Albuquerque Parks and Recreation Department. It is open Nov. 1 – Aug 31 yearly. It is home to the Golf & Event Center, the Sid Cutter Pilots’ Pavilion, baseball fields, open space, and the Anderson Abruzzo  Albuquerque International Balloon Museum. In addition to being home to the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta every October, Balloon Fiesta Park is also home throughout the year to many great events such as runs, festivals, sporting events, balloon rallies, concerts and more.

During Balloon Fiesta, Balloon Fiesta Park is transformed into a temporary, self-contained “city” of sorts, complete with security and emergency services, RV villages, glamping and camping, shops and restaurants. On opening morning, which is usually the busiest day of the event, it becomes the 2nd most populous “city” in New Mexico!

The Launch Field – The Launch Field at Balloon Fiesta Park was designed for the needs of the Balloon Fiesta event and where the main events take place. The 86-acre balloon Launch Field has space for more than 760 balloons to inflate simultaneously. To help you imagine the size of the Launch Field, the average hot air balloon is 3-5 stories tall and has to lay flat for inflation. During Balloon Fiesta, each balloon is assigned a launch site (or more, for larger balloons) where they can spread out to inflate fully before launching. Watch for a future blog with spectator etiquette and tips. 

The Balloon Museum borders the Launch Field to the south, parking lots to the north and east, and unique attractions erected specifically for the event. 

Ticketed guests are welcome throughout almost every area on the Launch Field, except those for designated personnel, such as flight officials, pilots, media, security, and private parties. 

The Anderson Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum is located within Balloon Fiesta Park at the south end of the Launch Field and named in honor of Albuquerque’s pioneering aeronauts, Maxie Anderson and Ben Abruzzo. Part of the City of Albuquerque Arts and Culture Department, the Balloon Museum opened in 2005 and has since welcomed over one million visitors from across New Mexico, the United States, and around the world.

The mission of the Balloon Museum is:

To inspire a spirit of exploration, discovery, and achievement through experiences that engage our visitors in the history, science, sport, and art of ballooning.

The Museum features interactive exhibits, historical facts, multi-media presentations, changing exhibits, educational programs, and special events.

The Anderson Abruzzo International Balloon Museum Foundation is a private, non-profit entity that proudly raises awareness, involvement, and funds for the Balloon Museum. We aim to uplift the Museum through project collaboration and shared information and resources. 

The Balloon Museum Foundation offers numerous ways to support the museum and get involved. This includes the Balloon Museum Shoppe, Balloon Museum Memberships, business sponsorships, and events throughout the year, including the Balloon Fiesta viewing and dining experience known as the The Observation Deck.

The Observation Deck is a Balloon Fiesta dining and viewing experience, hosted by the Balloon Museum Foundation. A portion of the proceeds are directly donated to the Foundation and benefit the museum educational and other programs. Offering the best views from above the crowds, delicious dining, VIP parking and amenities, and access to the Balloon Museum and Balloon Fiesta Park, the Observation Deck is located in Pugash Hall, a window-banked room located on the second floor of the Balloon Museum. 

Embarking on your journey to the world’s grandest ballooning spectacle, the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is an adventure filled with diverse names, vibrant locations, and organizations dedicated to preserving the spirit of ballooning. Amidst the bustling Balloon Fiesta Park, the majestic Launch Field, and the captivating Anderson Abruzzo Balloon Museum, you’ll find a captivating fusion of history, science, sport, and art. Whether you’re marveling at the synchronized ascent of hundreds of balloons or indulging in the Observation Deck’s panoramic views and delectable dining, this experience promises to be an unforgettable experience.  

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