7 Jaw Dropping Hot Air Balloon Festivals In New Mexico (2023)

New Mexico, often referred to as the "Land of Enchantment," is not just known for its rich history, vibrant culture, and breathtaking landscapes. 

It's also a haven for hot air balloon enthusiasts. With its clear blue skies and favorable flying conditions, New Mexico has become a mecca for balloonists from around the world. 

Every year, the state hosts a myriad of hot air balloon festivals that paint the sky with a kaleidoscope of colors, shapes, and sizes. 

Whether you're a seasoned balloonist, an avid photographer, or someone simply looking to experience the magic of floating above the earth, 2023 promises an array of events that are nothing short of spectacular. 

Here are seven hot air balloon festivals in New Mexico this year that you absolutely cannot afford to miss.

1. Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta (October 7 - 15)

  • Dates: October 7 - 15
  • Location: Balloon Fiesta Park, 4401 Alameda Blvd NE
  • Website: https://balloonfiesta.com/
  • Admission: $15 per person

The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta™, held every October, is a global spectacle that has been captivating audiences for over three decades. 

As the world's largest ballooning event, it transforms the New Mexico skies into a vibrant canvas of color. 

Photo by ActionVance

The Mass Ascension is particularly breathtaking, as hundreds of balloons simultaneously take flight against the backdrop of the cerulean desert sky. 

Nighttime brings the enchanting Balloon Glows, where tethered balloons illuminate the landscape. 

From whimsical special shapes to the sheer magnitude of balloons, it's a pilgrimage for enthusiasts and a visual feast for all.

2. Red Rock Balloon Rally (December 1 - 3rd)

Taking place in December, the Red Rock Balloon Rally in Gallup is a balloonist's dream. As the second-largest balloon event globally, it attracts over 200 balloons from various regions. 

Set against the picturesque red rock formations, the rally offers a unique blend of competitive spirit and cultural richness. 

Pilots vie for exquisite Native American arts and crafts. 

What sets this event apart is its inclusivity; spectators aren't just passive viewers but are encouraged to actively participate by joining balloon chase crews, making it a hands-on experience.

3. Elephant Butte Balloon Regatta (August 4 - 6)

  • Dates: August 4 - 6
  • Location: Elephant Butte Lake State Park
  • Admission: Free 
  • Parking fee: $5 per car

Every September, Elephant Butte Lake State Park becomes the epicenter of a unique ballooning adventure. 

The Elephant Butte Balloon Regatta is not just about the visual spectacle of mass ascensions; it's also about the thrill of the “Splash-n-Dash” balloon-boat relay races. 

This event has grown into a recreational paradise, offering attendees a plethora of activities from boating and water skiing to hiking and bird watching. 

It's where the serenity of ballooning meets the excitement of water sports.

4. Balloons Over Angel Fire (June 16 - 18)

In June, Angel Fire's skies become a riot of colors. With over 20 balloons set against the majestic Sangre de Cristo mountains, it's a sight to behold. 

But Balloons Over Angel Fire is not just about the visual treat. 

The festival is packed with events, from daily Mass Ascensions and enchanting Balloon Glows to live music sessions. 

Additionally, the Chile Challenge Pro-Grt Mountain Bike Race adds an adrenaline rush, making it a perfect blend of tranquility and thrill.

5. Taos Mountain Balloon Rally (October 27 - 29)

As October ends, the historic town of Taos becomes even more picturesque. 

The Taos Mountain Balloon Rally coincides with the fall foliage, where the trees turn into a vibrant palette of colors. 

This smaller, more intimate rally, hosting 35-50 balloons, offers a cozier experience compared to larger events. 

Photo by Jøn

The sight of brightly colored balloons ascending during a cold Taos Mountain sunrise is ethereal. 

Its size makes it a favorite, offering a personal touch and a close-knit community feel.

6. White Sands Balloon & Music Festival (September 16)

The White Sands Balloon & Music Festival is a unique blend of nature, music, and ballooning. 

Organized by the Alamogordo Center of Commerce and other partners, it's the only time of the year when private aircraft are permitted to soar over the shimmering gypsum dunes of White Sands National Park. 

The festival is a sensory delight, combining the ethereal beauty of the Tularosa Basin Landscape with the soulful rhythms of Red Dirt Country Music. 

Family-friendly activities and the chance to fly with Rainbow Ryders make it a must-visit.

7. Ride In A Hot Air Balloon

While not a traditional festival, taking a ride in a hot air balloon offers a personal and intimate ballooning experience. 

Various companies in New Mexico, like World Balloon and Rainbow Ryders, offer this unique opportunity year-round. 

Floating above the diverse landscapes of New Mexico, from its sprawling deserts to its bustling cities, provides a perspective like no other. 

It's a serene journey, where one can truly appreciate the vast beauty of the Land of Enchantment.


New Mexico, with its vast landscapes and azure skies, has long been a canvas for the vibrant hues and gentle drift of hot air balloons. 

Each festival, from the world-renowned Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta™ to the intimate Taos Mountain Balloon Rally, offers a unique blend of culture, adventure, and sheer visual delight. 

Whether you're an avid balloonist, a photography enthusiast, or someone seeking a magical experience, these festivals promise memories that will last a lifetime. 

So, mark your calendars, pack your cameras, and prepare to be enchanted. 

The Land of Enchantment awaits, ready to take you on a breathtaking journey above and beyond.