Albuquerque’s Balloon Festival Is Truly Uplifting

PHOTO: Canon U.S.A

Alburquerque's International Balloon Fiesta is going on now through October 15, 2017.

The largest gathering of balloons and balloonists in the world takes place annually in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and the festival is currently in full swing. We caught up with Canon USA, the presenting sponsor of the event, to see what sort of photo opportunities they’re cooking up.

PHOTO: Canon U.S.A
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Visitors from across the world arrive in Albuquerque to take in the stunning mass ascension on the opening day of the annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. This year’s event features over 500 hot air and gas balloons!

PHOTO: Canon U.S.A
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A major perk of Canon’s sponsorship is the opportunities to test-drive their products. As one of the most photographed festivals in the world, visitors were able to try the latest Canon cameras and printers on-site, and participate in hands-on demonstrations.

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Festival-goers were loaned cameras and lenses to help capture picture-perfect photos. With myriad natural lighting opportunities, plus stunning landscapes and subject matter, participants could test both their skills and the camera features.

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According to AIBF, the day kicks off with mass ascensions, or the launch of all the participating balloons, have been a feature of Balloon Fiesta since its earliest days and is the most spectacular display of sound and color in all of aviation.

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Weather permitting, balloons launch at about 7 am led by a balloon flying the American flag.

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The balloons launch in two waves. Launch directors, also known as zebras because of their black-and-white-striped outfits, serve as traffic cops, coordinating the launch so balloons leave the field in a safe and coordinated manner. That is adorable and also, thank you for your service.

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Of course the balloons are the main event, but also included in the festival is a variety of entertainment: various bands and children’s acts, fireworks, artisan offerings to buy, and of all random things, a Chainsaw Carving competition each morning: in just 90 minutes, artists compete to carve logs! WHAAAAAATTT

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Here’s a view from a hot air balloon during the mass ascension. Pilots compete for various titles: Balloon Fiesta Hold ’em, Key Grab, Balloon Fiesta Golf (EXCUSE ME, WHY), Multiple Judge-Declared Goal, Fly-in Task, Minimum Double Drop and a Prize Grab. All competitions are based on flying accuracy rather than speed. Thank. The. Lord.

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The signature event–the Balloon Fiesta, with almost 600 balloons, is the largest ballooning event on earth and the most photographed event on earth. It’s a great place to get some photo experience in, or just sit back and watch it all float by.