The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

1658725282_8c2fe5b242_oIt’s time to start planning your vacation for next year.  May I suggest one with amazing beauty, history and adventure?  I lived in Albuquerque, NM for 3 1/2 years when my husband was in the military and had the opportunity to even work this festival which gave me the chance to see the beauty up close and personal.  I wanted to share with you a bit of the joy it brought us by informing you of what the event is about and some of the photos I gathered on the net.  Mine are all put away in photo albums from 19 years ago so they are a bit outdated.  I would love to go back.  This year’s event just ended last week.  I should have put this post together much sooner.

The picture to the left looks very similar to the tent I worked when I was there back in 1994.  I sold these beautifully handcrafted balloons.

The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta – The World’s Premier Balloon Event has much to choose from over the 8 days it’s in town.

VIDEO ADVERTISEMENT FOR THE BALLOON FIESTA

SOME OF THE SIGHTS YOU MAY SEE

Starting at 5:45 daily the hot air balloons are laid out and lit up while they remain on the ground.  It is quite a wonder to behold in the dark of the early morning hours.

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Opening ceremonies start at 6:45 followed by The Mass ascension at 7am.  The balloons take off in 2 seprate waves starting from one end of the field to the other.

balloons Mass-Ascension-2w 19091572 images

indexAlbuquerque Chainsaw Carving International, a side show to the balloons, brings artists from around the world.  It is a fairly new art form but the sculptures are incredible.  The carving show started at 8am this year and after they are done the show, the pieces are auctioned off.

Early in the week there are not as many attractions and they do vary so be sure to check the schedule before planning your travel.  A few of the shows that are mixed in are, The Fiesta of Wheels Car Show, Flying Competition, Concerts (The 2013 event hosted Darius Rucker), Balloon Fiesta Pin Trading, and more.

The vendor booths showcase amazing art talent, specialty foods and activities.  You may even get to have your picture taken in a gondola.

The Special Shapes took off this year on Thursday and Friday only at 5:45PM.  This is a MUST SEE event.  I remember taking my first born when he was a year and a half and he was as intrigued as we were.  It is a day, as a family we will cherish for life, even after 19 years!  Check out some of the shapes from this year:

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The Night MagicTM Glow and the AfterGlowTM Fireworks Show, presented by Albuquerque Journal, are as equally amazing as watching them light up in the early morning hours but I believe they remain on the ground.  A fireworks show is included.

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In addition to the events listed, there is a great deal to see and do.  If you are there for the week,be sure to check out other attractions to visit in the area such as the Pertroglyph National Monument, Old Town, the town of Taos, Carlsbad Caverns or even take a drive around the back side and to the top of Sandia Mountain Crest.  Albuquerque has some beautiful attractions.

The Albuquerque Convention & Visitor’s Center lists the dates for 2014 to be October 4 – 12.  If you are interested, it is best to book as far in advance as possible.  Hotels and flights for this week fill quickly.  You can find great information on the Balloon Fiesta Website in the Sources section below that lists hotel, fights and accommodation information.

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Sources:

A MUST READ If You Ever Want To Swim With The Dolphins

This is one of my bucket list items and I can guarantee I’m not alone.  I know my husband and children are very interested as well.  I have touched a dolphin before at the New England Aquarium in Boston and I think we did at Sea World but that was so very long ago and for such a brief time that it only made me want to experience more.

I decided to find out some information on what was available and what the current rates would be.  This is one thing that, even after crossing off my first swim with them, I cannot be sure it will remove it from the list completely because I’m sure I’ll want to do it again.

After doing some research I found something amazing.  There are excursions that actually last longer a week, not just 30 minutes or an hour!  Before this research I had no idea.  I thought I would share those with you.  I’m sure if you are interested in just doing a half hour or so and you have a specific location in mind, you can easily find the one that’s right for you.  The prices on those range between $169-$400.  I included a couple of those at the bottom.

Dolphins are majestic and have been said to have amazing healing powers physically and for the soul.  I can’t wait to find out first hand.

5-7 DAY EXCURSIONS

layout-image_r2_c2Dolphin Expeditions in the BahamasWebsite: http://www.dolphinexpeditions.com/

I have never heard of this, but there is a place called Bimini in the Bahamas where you can spend a week on their boat and at a private island resort.  You will have a full week to experience the dolphins in their natural habitat and swim with them.  They have an all-inclusive, all you can eat buffet, free snorkel gear and suits.  Prices are around $1457.00.00 per person-US dollars,  for one week, almost all inclusive.  On their website they state that they will also match other Bahamian Wild Dolphin Swim Organizations discounted prices of equal value to help make your special dolphin week a reality.  This is for an entire week.  Here’s what they state about their price and what it includes:
Here is what is included:  All boat government taxes including the Bahamian 45.00 eco tax. accommodations for the week, yoga in the morning-if you wish, all meals and snacks prepared on the boat-including departure and return dates, fuel charges, non-alcoholic beverages, all snorkeling gear…This is not the normal rental gear, it is the absolute best and most comfortable gear that is available…and it’s free!  And they have brand new monofins of most sizes so that our guests can give them a try and swim like a dolphin.

Not included: All travel expenses to the island and off, gratuities and one night dinner out to check out the local cuisine.

On Indigo they also have new custom paddle boards that can also be paddled as kayaks for one or two persons. It’s one of my new favorite things to do.  They were the first to paddle to the Sapona and play around inside…everything underwater loves coming to play with the boards.. turtles, rays and assorted fish of all kinds. Underwater world up close and personal.

They also show pictures of a shipwreck and talk about visiting several private deserted islands!  This sounds amazing!  But it is not in everyone’s budget.  I think it is comparable to the price of a cruise though and if you are looking for a longer excursion, this just might do the trick!  Reserve well in advance because they only take 12 people per boat per week.

media_slideshows_2012_Dolphins & People_dolphins+people (1)Wild Quest: website: http://www.wildquest.com  (I think this one is my favorite!)

They are also located on the island of Bimini in the Bahamas and have a week excursion.  They tout this as a “holistic, meditative retreat.”  They offer this experience from April to November.  They spend the night on land and head out daily around 11:30 in the morning to start their day.  They are a 20 minute flight from Ft. Lauderdale.  They also have morning yoga, breakfast buffet, packed lunches, evening bon fires and swimming at the beach in the pristine water.  There is a photographer on hand who records the experiences of the week and has a DVD available for you to take home at the end of the week.

I should mention a few things this includes: Sunday night hotel accommodations in Ft. Lauderdale, shuttle transfer to the airport on Monday, airport transfer on Saturday morning, 5 nights accommodations on the island in a shared double room, all meals except one dinner out to sample the local cuisine, 5 days out on the catamaran (weather permitting,) all group activities and complimentary use of their kayaks.

The flight from Ft. Lauderdale, FL to Bimini is not included and costs approximately $295 per person.  Airport taxes and gratuities are not included as well.  You must pay to rent the snorkel equipment through this excursion.

When I went to check the pricing, I noticed something unique.  They offer different entertainment each week so you should book well in advance.  The one I would like is with a Psychic/Medium/Teacher.  Yes, please!  $1,895 per person.  OF course, this would be the most expensive.  Prices range between $1,595 to $1,895 per person for the week.

konasurfnSwim With Dolphins:  Website: http://www.swimwithdolphins.com

This unique experience is centered mostly around couples and their commitment to each other and is located in Kona, Hawaii.  This 5 day excursion includes classes on the dolphins, snorkel practice, beach time, free meals except Friday night, hotel, hula fun, a Polynesian show, and several seminars on relationships to include; Secrets to Sensual Intimacy, Learning Massage for Blissful Relaxation, Enriching Your Relationship and a Reaffirmation Ceremony in the local chapel.  The price is $1,459 per person booked as a couple more than 45 days in advance.

 

DAY EXCURSIONS

thumb_DolphinSwim2Discovery Cove: Website is: http://www.discoverycove.com

Their day packages include access to all their signature experiences and you can include the dolphin experience with it.  Their packages also include 14 days admission to Sea World Orlando, Aquatica, Seaworld’s Water Park, and for an extra $22 you can include Busch Gardens.

You can choose three options here.  You can go with the Trainer for a Day option, upgrade this to the Ultimate Trainer for a Day, or the 30 minute dolphin interaction.

The Trainer for a Day includes the 30 minute interaction plus an enhanced deep-water interaction with dolphins including a private photo session with two dolphins, dynamic behaviors such as the “double-foot push,” in which the guest is pushed through the water by two dolphins, feeding tropical fish in the The Grand Reef, special meet-and-greets with tropical birds and small mammals, behind-the-scenes tour of all Discovery Cove support areas,  shadowing a trainer for the day and includes all other Discovery Cove amenities.  This option costs between $229-$399 per person, depending on the date you choose.

You can upgrade this to the Ultimate package with is everything above plus a private individual photo session with 2 of the dolphins and a gift bag for approximately $20-30 more per person.

There is one package that includes a 30 minute dolphin interaction, snorkeling in The Grand Reef, encounters with playful otters and curious marmosets in Freshwater Oasis™, hand feeding exotic birds in a free flight aviary, relaxing on pristine beaches, freshly prepared breakfast and lunch and unlimited snacks, drinks and alcoholic beverages, float along their river, Lockers, sunscreen, snorkel gear, changing facilities, and free parking.  This package runs between $169-$199 per person, also depending on when you book.

This is not your average theme park.  Check out their video on the website for a better view of what it looks like and what you can expect.  This is by reservation only.  They can only accommodate 1,300 people per day.

Dolphin Discover:  Website is http://www.dolphindiscover.com

There are several places and types of experiences listed with this website, too many to list.  I suggest that you check it out in case you plan on visiting any of the following locations; Cancun-Isla Mujeres, Costa Maya, Cozumel, Cancun, Puerto Aventuras, Riviera Maya, Punta Maroma, Los Cabos, Mexico City’s Six Flags, Vallarta, St. MArtin, Grand Cayman or St. Thomas.

Also keep in mind, when you book a cruise, most warm water locations offer a dolphin experience as an add on while docked at one of the ports.  Be sure to look for them.

I appreciate you taking the time to read about this adventure with me.  I have officially started a bucket list with this as one of my top 5.  What’s on your list?

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