It’s no secret Balloon Fiesta is the busiest time of the year for a lot of metro businesses with hundreds of thousands of visitors flooding the city — and balloons are only part of the trip.
It’s like Christmas in October for New Mexico’s tourist hotspots.
“The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is not the only biggest event we see in New Mexico, it’s the most photographed event in the world,” New Mexico Tourism Department Secretary Rebecca Latham said.
From taking a stroll through Old Town to indulging in classic New Mexican cuisine, more than half a million visitors flock to the Land of Enchantment from all around the world over the nine day span of Balloon Fiesta.
“We see tourists throughout the whole year, but during Balloon Fiesta it just triples. You see people from all over the world,” Church Street Cafe manager Karla Sandoval said.
Restaurants like Church Street Cafe in Old Town aren’t the only ones seeing an influx of visitors.
“Balloon Fiesta is an amazing time for us… We’re extremely busy. It’s like our Christmas,” Sandia Peak general manager Michael Donovan said.
Last year’s Balloon Fiesta had a total economic impact of almost $173 million on Albuquerque metro businesses.
The Sandia Tram sees a 100 percent spike in ridership when Balloon Fiesta arrives.
“The tram really is such a special place to be during Balloon Fiesta. You just have so many views and it says so much about Albuquerque. You can see a lot here,” Donnovan said.
Whether it’s watching the mass ascension rise over the Albuquerque skies or taking a trip down the Rio Grande with Quiet Waters Paddling Adventures while the balloons splash and dash, “It’s also such a great event for us New Mexicans to celebrate something that is really unique to the Land of Enchantment,” Latham said.
A survey done last year at Balloon Fiesta found the average person spends $28 at the park. That doesn’t include tickets and parking.
The average tourist spends $150 a day while they’re here, on everything from hotels and restaurants to sightseeing and shopping.