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City Gets Ready to Welcome Visitors for the 51st International Balloon Fiesta

Officials highlight public safety, park improvements and balloon museum events.
October 04, 2023

Mayor Tim Keller, the Albuquerque Police Department (APD), Parks and Recreation Department (PRD), and Department of Arts and Culture (DAC) announced improvements and events ahead of the 51st Annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.

“Once again, Albuquerque is ready to open its doors to the world for our most iconic event,” said Mayor Tim Keller. “This year, we’ve taken preparedness, planning and improvements to new heights to ensure a safe, welcoming Fiesta for all who come to share in this vibrant celebration of our city’s great tradition and promise.”

The City highlighted many improvements to the public safety plan, outlining a strong partnership with the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta (AIBF), regional law enforcement agencies, the City’s Emergency Management Office, Bernalillo County and federal partners. Over the past year, the City has been working to improve emergency management operations and procedures in the event there is a weather related or high stress event at Balloon Fiesta Park during Balloon Fiesta.

APD also announced their partnership with the Superintendent of Insurance, who will be providing GPS trackers this year for balloonists. The GPS trackers will be placed on balloons and will be used to track their location in the event of a balloon theft. APD’s Special Investigations Division will be running high visibility and undercover operations throughout the city, monitoring hotels and areas around Balloon Fiesta Park to keep them safe.

“APD is going to put resources in place to keep people safe, not only at the park, but across the city as they enjoy the festivities surrounding the Balloon Fiesta. We will have officers on the field, traffic to help get people in and out, and teams safe guarding the businesses where our visitors will be spending their time,” said Chief Harold Medina. “I’m thankful to the first responders who will be out keeping our residents and guests safe so they can enjoy the balloons.”

Parks and Recreation highlighted significant improvements and repairs at Albuquerque’s largest park, Balloon Fiesta Park. The newest northeast parking lot of the park is now graded and graveled with a designated pedestrian walkway down to the park, adding 750 parking spots. A major renovation included a French drain on the north side of the park to mitigate a previous drainage issue. Other improvements include new paving along Vendor’s Row, electrical updates for vendors, lighting at pedestrian entrances, new gates for pedestrian crowd control at the Park and Ride, and new grass on parts of the field.

“The park is ready for you, Albuquerque! We can’t wait to see the colorful balloons filling our skies,” said Parks and Recreation Director Dave Simon. “With new park improvements and special events, the 51st Balloon Fiesta is sure to eclipse all others.”

The Department of Arts and Culture announced extended hours for the Anderson Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum during Balloon Fiesta, from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. On the eve of Balloon Fiesta, the Balloon Museum will host the prestigious FIA Ballooning Commission International Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, a private event. This year’s Hall of Fame inductees, Dewey Reinhard of the United States and Phil Dunnington of the United Kingdom, were announced in Hasle Rüegsau, Switzerland, earlier this year. DAC also announced the “Lift Your Spirits Craft Cocktail Festival,” presented by the DAC and New Mexico Distillers Guild. Attendees can enjoy live music, craft cocktails, and sunset views from the Balloon Museum lawn. On Saturday, October 14, from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., join DAC for the Annular Eclipse viewing as the phenomenon passes over Albuquerque. Guests are invited to experience a half day of presentations by space weather scientists and climatologists from NOAA, with special guests from NASA and NSF; featuring hands-on activities; and food trucks.

“Amidst the excitement of Balloon Fiesta, don't forget to explore the other colorful arts and cultural offerings of our city. From live performances in Old Town to the O’Keeffe and Moore touring exhibition at the Albuquerque Museum, we have so many exciting things going on,” said Dr. Shelle Sanchez, Director of Arts & Culture. “Including new exhibits at the Balloon Museum and the brand new, expansive Asia habitat at the ABQ BioPark Zoo opening to the public for this first time on Thursday.”