Every year since the first gathering of 13 balloons in 1972, the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta in New Mexico has brought together hot air balloonists and enthusiasts from all around the country and the world in what is the premier hot air balloon event of the year.
With the Sandía Mountains as a backdrop, over 500,000 visitors head to Albuquerque to fly, launch and ogle over 550 balloons that include 90 special shapes from over 18 countries for one of the most photographed events there is.
This year is no different, and here are some photos courtesy of photographer Paul D deBerjeois.
Balloons started lifting off Saturday morning and will continue through Oct. 13.
Ballooning is most enjoyable from a height of 1,200 to 3,000 feet where the views are spectacular.
Hot air balloons can — depending on size — hold two to 20 passengers on average.
Hot air balloons can stay in the air from one to three hours depending on outside temperature and weight carried.
There are over 90 unique shapes this year, including birds …
Angry birds …
And princesses and bees.
Sponsors also take advantage of the visibility to send their branding into the sky.
Launches run all day long from pre-dawn to evening, which are the best times to hit the skies.
Onlookers gather around as a balloon burner fires up. It takes about 15 minutes to fill up and launch a hot air balloon.
On Saturday night, fireworks close out the day.
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