Is there anything quite as enthralling as hot air balloons? Every year, on the third weekend in September, the Alamogordo Center of Commerce hosts the most spectacular airlift in southern New Mexico: The White Sands Balloon Invitational. Colorful balloons rise up into the air from both White Sands National Park, and the Ed Brabson Balloon Park in Alamogordo, while family-friendly activities draw locals and visitors by the thousands for a two-day celebration like no other. The White Sands Balloon Invitational will celebrate its 30th anniversary September 16 – 17, 2023.
The festival had its beginnings in 1992, when air park namesake Ed Brabson oversaw the very first liftoff of 18 balloons. Since then, the annual invitational has grown to include more than 40, and sometimes as many as 60, hot air balloons, with sponsorships from the City of Alamogordo, the business community and the New Mexico tourism department. Balloonists from throughout the southwest take part in the event, and visitors come from far and wide to enjoy both the spectacle and the fun. Between music and a plethora of activities, the family-friendly event is a full weekend experience.
This year’s invitational begins on Saturday, September 16, with a mass ascension from White Sands National Park at 6 a.m., creating one of the most photographed spectacles of the year. As always, the lift off will depend on weather conditions, so you may want to check on that before you go. It’s also never a bad idea to wear sunscreen and a hat. White Sands is well-known for its reflective properties, and more than one poor soul has left those dunes with a full body burn.
The celebration continues later that evening, from 6 – 10 p.m., when the Balloon Glow Spectacle lights up the Ed Brabson Balloon Park in Alamogordo. On tap for the evening are a Laser Show by Owl Cartel Event Productions, a mechanical bull from K&R Rentals, chainsaw carving, Folklorico dancing, balloon inflatables for the kids, a dunk tank, and live music from Crossin’ The Line. Food trucks and refreshment stands will also be on the grounds, for those who want to make a meal out of the festival.
On Sunday, September 17, the festival returns to Ed Brabson Balloon Park, where weather permitting the second mass ascension takes place at 7 a.m. Nothing beats getting pictures from both liftoffs, mainly because they provide different backdrops. So, even if you were there for the Saturday ascension from White Sands National Park, check out the second ascent for an entirely new experience. You won’t be sorry.
For more information about the White Sands Balloon Invitational, visit the website.
Posted by LasCruces.com