LIFESTYLE

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta kicks off with mass ascension

Approximately 60 balloons launched from Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta Park in Albuquerque, New Mexico Friday, Oct. 2, 2015 as part of Albuquerque Aloft, an event that happens the day before the official Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta event on Saturday. Many pilots who are registered for Balloon Fiesta sign up to participate in Albuquerque Aloft. Pilots tether or launch their balloons from selected school grounds in Albuquerque and Rio Rancho on the Friday morning before Balloon Fiesta. (Clyde Mueller/Santa Fe New Mexican via AP)

Approximately 60 balloons launched from Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta Park in Albuquerque, New Mexico Friday, Oct. 2, 2015 as part of Albuquerque Aloft, an event that happens the day before the official Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta event on Saturday. Many pilots who are registered for Balloon Fiesta sign up to participate in Albuquerque Aloft. Pilots tether or launch their balloons from selected school grounds in Albuquerque and Rio Rancho on the Friday morning before Balloon Fiesta. (Clyde Mueller/Santa Fe New Mexican via AP)

Tens of thousands of spectators swarmed the launch field Saturday for the first mass ascension of the 44th annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.

The nine-day event kicked off at dawn. More than 500 balloons representing dozens of states and nearly 20 different countries are registered this year.

Organizers say it's one of the most photographed events in the world.

Shelby Burby of Michigan traveled to the fiesta with family members for her father's 80th birthday and they were planning to lift off early Saturday. She described seeing the balloons lift off at sunrise as gorgeous.

A combination of factors makes Albuquerque the perfect place for the fiesta: typically clear skies, cool mornings and wind patterns at various elevations that help keep the balloons aloft over the city.

More On This...

Like us on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter & Instagram