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Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta (New Mexico, United States)

The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is an early October yearly festival of hot air balloons. In fact, it is the largest hot air balloon festival in the world. It is a nine day event that features about 500 balloons. This year it is taking place between October 6 until 14.

It began in 1972 to celebrate the 50th birthday of the KKOB radio station. The radio station manager Dick McKee asked Sid Cutter, owner of Cutter Flying Service and the first person to own a hot air balloon in New Mexico if the station could use his new hot air balloon in the festivities. While chatting about balloons, they decided to try to top the largest gathering of balloons at that time (19 in England). Bad weather kept them from doing it and they ended up with only 13. The next year the town hosted the first World Hot-Air Balloon Championships and the fiesta became an international event. In 1975, Albuquerque wanted to host the World Championships again, but the event was held in October of that year, so the city moved the fiesta to same time to coincide and the event has remained an October staple ever since. The event grew more and more each year, topping out at 1,019 balloons in 2000. A limit of 750 was imposed in 2001; it was further downgraded in 2009 to 600. The event brings in up to 100,000 spectators every year!