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United States > Pictures and travelogues > Pictures from New Mexico > Albuquerque

Pictures from Albuquerque attractions, New Mexico (USA): the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, the Aquarium, and the luminarias.

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, New Mexico
Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, New Mexico (USA).

Albuquerque is considered the "Hot Air Ballooning Capital of the World" because of the excellent flying conditions (c
lear blue skies, calm winds and mild temperatures), number of resident hot-air balloonists and the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. It is home to the Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum that houses exhibitions and informative programs on the history, science and art of ballooning worldwide. The museum was inaugurated in 2005.

In Albuquerque, visitors find a variety of local commercial ballooning companies and can fly all year round. In the famous "Albuquerque Box" pattern, the wind blows predictably north at one elevation and south at another, allowing pilots to launch, fly a great distance, then change altitude and backtrack to return close to the launch site.

The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta began in 1972. It is the world’s largest hot air ballooning event. For nine days in October, hundreds of colorful balloons float above the city each morning: as dawn breaks over the Sandia Mountains, more than 700 balloons from all over the world rise together in a harmonious lift-off. 

Balloon events are also held in the evenings. At the "Balloon Glow", large numbers of balloons are illuminated at night by their propane burners. They stand static and do not take off during these events. The "Glowdeo" is a night event for the special shapes balloons. 

The festival features balloons of every color, shape and size. It is considered to be one of the most photographed events in the world. It is also a great opportunity to see hot air balloons close up since visitors are allowed to walk amongst the balloons as they inflate on the launch field each morning. Balloon Fiesta Park is located north of Alameda Boulevard, one mile west of I-25.

Furthermore, each year since 1975, the Balloon Fiesta hosts the America’s Challenge Gas Balloon Race. Gas balloons fly higher and farther than hot air balloons, often exposing pilots to violent weather conditions. The competition is based entirely on the distance traveled by a balloon.

By the way, the first successful crossing of the Atlantic by balloon was done by three Albuquerqueans, including  the famous balloonists Max Leroy Anderson and Ben Abruzzo. Another Albuquerquean, Troy Bradley, set 24 world records for duration, distance, and altitude.

Albuquerque Aquarium in New Mexico (USA).
Albuquerque Aquarium in New Mexico (USA).

Albuquerque is the largest city in the U.S. state of New Mexico. It was founded in 1706 by a group of colonists who chose a place where the river Rio Grande made a wide curve providing good irrigation for crops. It was named to honor a Spanish Duke, the 10th Duke of Alburquerque, Spain. The first "r" has been dropped over time. After the American occupation of New Mexico, Albuquerque had a federal garrison.

In 1880, the railroad came to Albuquerque and a "New Town" grew along the tracks two miles east of Old Town. The Old Town remained a separate community until the 1920s when it was absorbed by the city of
Albuquerque. Then the city grew up along Route 66.

With the influence of Native American, Spanish and Western heritage, Albuquerque is a subtle blending of many cultures.  It is home to the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center (read more about the Center) and the National Hispanic Cultural Center.

The National Hispanic Cultural Center (NHCC) is the only national cultural institution dedicated to the preservation, promotion, and advancement of Hispanic culture, arts, and humanities. It is located at the Intersection of 4th Street SW and Avenida César Chávez (Bridge Blvd.) in Albuquerque. Opening hours: Monday-Friday, 8:00am-5:00pm. Guided group tour available upon reservation.

Other cultural centers in Albuquerque include the South Broadway Cultural Center (a multi-cultural center with art gallery, performing arts theater and library), and the African American Performing Arts Center.

Albuquerque is home to many other museums including the
New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science, the National Atomic Museum (National Museum of Nuclear Science & History), the Albuquerque Museum of Art & History, ¡explora! (a new center with more than 250 interactive exhibits, educational programs and activities encouraging creativity, imagination, inspiration and inquiry into science, technology and art), and many more.

The BioPark of Albuquerque consists of three separate facilities: the 28 ha (60 acre) Rio Grande Zoological Park, the Albuquerque Aquarium and the 15 ha (36 acre) Rio Grande Botanic Garden, and Tingley Beach (3 fishing lakes).

Three amusement parks are set in Albuquerque: Cliff’s Amusement Park, Hinkle Family Fun Center, and  IT’Z.

Luminarias in Albuquerque on Christmas Eve
Luminarias in Albuquerque, New Mexico (USA) on Christmas Eve. 

A luminaria is a small paper lantern (commonly a candle set in some sand inside a paper bag) which are used as a Christian tradition in New Mexico and other places in the United States on Christmas Eve.

In December, you may experience the Old Town Plaza's annual Luminaria tour and wander through the golden glow of more than a thousand twinkling paper lanterns.



Albuquerque Convention and Visitors Bureau
The official tourism site for the city of Albuquerque, New Mexico (USA).

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Travel guide to New Mexico (USA) with many nice pictures.