The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta 2017 officially began on Saturday, with the go-ahead nod being given to some 550 hot air balloons to ascend into the skies. The event takes place every year at about the same time, and goes on for a week.
This year, there was some anxiety on Saturday about the opening of the festival, as it seemed to many that winds would prevent the mass ascension of hot air balloons as planned. Things went well, however, and the event has proceeded smoothly as expected, and will close with a golden show of fireworks on 13 October.
In the current year, there are more than 90 special-shape balloons part of the fiesta. At the Special Shape Glowdeo, these ascend to impress visitors on Thursday and Friday mornings and evenings. Balloons shaped like the Angry Birds, Bees, Princesses and more add to the cheer of the festival and make it truly one of a kind.
The first such fiesta in Albuquerque saw the gathering of 13 hot air balloons, and had happened back in 1972. Now, the festival has grown to become the largest ballooning event in the world, and sees hundreds of participants each year, who come from more than 18 different countries to exhibit their skill and to enjoy the beautiful, forget-me-not blue autumn skies with majestic mountains for a backdrop.
The population of Albuquerque increases manifold during the days of the Fiesta, as 500,000 visitors come from all over the world to this colourful event, which happens to be the most-photographed event in the world. Tourists pour in from all corners of the world, and enjoy taking in the colourful sights of the event. Though there are ballooning festivals in other parts of the world, too, there are none which come close to the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta in terms of scale.
There is a lot more to the event than just flying up in the hot air balloons. There are a number of competitions organised throughout the course of the week, such as hitting targets on the ground with beanbags, something that takes plenty of skill. An official photography contest is also part of the event each year, allowing visitors to showcase their skills with the camera.