Monday Dec 5, 2022
Monday Dec 5, 2022

Annual hot air balloon festival draws global audience to US


Nepalnews
2022 Oct 02, 14:59, ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.
Nicole Tagart, a launch official with the 50th annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, signals a balloonist to take off in Albuquerque, N.M., on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022. (via AP)

Hundreds of hot air balloons lifted off Saturday morning, marking the start of an annual fiesta that has drawn pilots and spectators from across the globe to New Mexico’s high desert for 50 years now.

As one of the most photographed events in the world, the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta has become an economic driver for the state’s largest city and a rare — and colorful — opportunity for enthusiasts to be within arm’s reach as the giant balloons are unpacked and inflated.

Three of the original pilots who participated in the first fiesta in 1972 and the family members of others are among this year’s attendees. That year, 13 balloons launched from an open lot near a shopping center on what was then the edge of Albuquerque. It has since grown into a multimillion-dollar production.

Tens of thousands of people packed the field Saturday, wide-eyed with necks craned as they tried to soak in the spectacle.

The fiesta has grown to include a cadre of European ballooning professionals. More than 20 countries are represented this year, including Switzerland, Australia, Brazil, Croatia, Mexico, Taiwan and Ukraine.

It also serves as the launching venue for the America’s Challenge Gas Balloon Race, one of the world’s premier distance races for gas balloons.

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Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta global audience pilots and spectators New Mexico 50 years
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