Each year, thousands flock to New Mexico to visit our southern neighbors and experience the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. The event, taking place October 5-13, 2019, is the largest ballooning event on earth, the most photographed event on earth, and the largest annual international event held in the United States.

Albuquerque hotels fill quickly for the event and it can be congested driving around. Those willing to make the 60 mile trek north will find a little bit more space and less traffic. This year, TOURISM Santa Fe has partnered to offer a daily shuttle, running to and from the Balloon Fiesta Park (advanced tickets are required). Great lodging deals are available as well. Temps are a bit cooler, the air a bit crisper and the colors a bit more vivid. Here are a few recommendations to help you to experience the event in a whole new way, The City Different way.

Breathe It In

Most of the thrill of the Balloon Fiesta takes place early in the morning. Mass Ascension launches take place at 7 a.m. leaving the rest of your day to explore. You will find plenty of ways to fill the rest of your day in Santa Fe.  October is a great time to get outdoors! Take in the golden aspens shimmering in the breeze at Hyde Memorial State Park. Then, enjoy an aerial view of the fall foliage on a Ski Santa Fe Chairlift Ride (Bonus: live music and beer garden on the weekends!).

This is one fall experience you will never forget! Open daily throughout the Balloon Fiesta (Photo: Ski Santa Fe)

This is one fall experience you will never forget! The lift operates daily throughout the Balloon Fiesta. (Photo: Ski Santa Fe)

Drink It Up

Take your adventure from the mountains to the patios with the Santa Fe Margarita Trail. Your adventure starts with purchasing the Margarita Trail Passport at any TOURISM Santa Fe Visitor Center or downloading the app via Google Play or the Apple App Store. With 45 margaritas on the Trail to tantalize your taste buds, you’re sure to find a favorite or two! As an added bonus, make sure to show your Passport you will receive $1 off the signature Margarita Trail cocktail.

Cheers to the Margarita Trail!
(Photo: Douglas Merriam)

Get Cultured

Immerse yourself in the art and culture that only a 400+ year center of history and artistic innovation can deliver. Museum Hill offers four world-class museums, all in a single location. If you plan on visiting multiple museums, save considerably on admission with the CulturePass. For just $30, the CulturePass allows one visit to each of the state’s 15 museums and historic sites. The pass is good for 12 months after first use, so you have plenty of time to take full advantage. Another perk if you have children traveling with you: all kids age 16 and under are always free at these museums.

Carved dolls whimsically highlight history at the Museum of International Folk Art. (Photo: TOURISM Santa Fe)

Celebrate Our History

October is also a great time for events in the City Different. Since 2016, the second Monday of October has been proclaimed Santa Fe Indigenous Peoples Day, in honor of the 23 Tribes, Nations and Pueblos whose influence is evident throughout the region. Santa Fe is deeply proud to embrace its rich cultural diversity and the prolific and profound contributions that its first peoples brought and continue to bring to the City. In honor of these contributions, there will be traditional dance and drum performances on the Historic Plaza daily throughout the weekend.

Dancers brighten the Santa Fe Plaza for Indigenous Peoples Day. (Photo: TOURISM Santa Fe)

Reap What You Sow

Additionally, October is the time to celebrate the bounty of the harvest. Visit New Mexico’s top living history museum for the Harvest Festival, taking place October 5-6, 2019. Taste syrup from a burro driven sorghum mill, help make cider by cranking a traditional apple press, and pick a pumpkin from the scarecrow-guarded patch. For the children, there will be grape stomping, making of cornhusk dolls or rolling their own delicious tortilla by hand.

Pumpkins and chile are part of the bounty at the Harvest Festival. (Photo: Bill Todjno Photography)

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