Visit the Balloon Fiesta Without Losing Your Children or Your Mind


I love Balloon Fiesta. I’ve lived in New Mexico for 11 years, and the only year I did not attend the fiesta was the year I was eight months pregnant with my oldest daughter. I was not about to purposely walk my large self into a portapotty every five minutes, thank you very much. We still watched balloons, just from the comfort of our vehicle, outside of the super congested fiesta area.

We’ve attended Balloon Fiesta with children for three years and have learned a few tricks that are worth sharing. 

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If you can afford to, take the Park & Ride bus.

My husband and I did this before we ever had children, and we’ll likely continue to forever. Riding the bus is not only faster, but less expensive for us as kids under 5 ride free. Also, it’s so nice to just sit on the bus and let someone else navigate through the traffic. It’s even nicer to do that while snuggling your sleepy kiddos.

Wear as many children as possible.

I am not typically anti-stroller. No really, I use my double stroller several times a week for my two littles, all over the place. School pick up, our MOPs group, the zoo, Target. I love my stroller. However, I refuse to bring it to Balloon Fiesta. There are too many people, the ground is not always even/easy to push a heavy stroller over, and have I mentioned that we will only go to fiesta using the Park & Ride buses? Keeping your kids nearby and trying to quickly get your stroller in and out of a bus is an oxymoron, right?

We wear our girls on our backs in our Líllébaby carriers. My oldest is sensitive to the loud noises, so if she gets overwhelmed, strapping her on back is mush easier than trying to hold her 40ish pounds on my hip while walking in a large crowd. My youngest will remain strapped in because one-year-olds. Need I say more?

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Bring (adult) friends with you.

At this point, you may be wondering where the stuff for the kids will go. And you bring up a good point. If your family is like ours, with two adults and two small children being worn on the adults’ backs, who carries the diaper bag? 

If you have access to willing grandparents, aunts or uncles, or fabulous friends that love you so much that they’ll board your crazy train, bring them! Offer to pay for their ticket if they’ll carry around your bag for a few hours. If you can’t find a willing participant, consider a wristlet. (I have this & used it last year!) A wristlet clips onto your carrier and forces you to pare down to the essentials. A few diapers, wipes, a few pouches, and some hand sanitizer. I even fit a small bottle in mine last year for my then 6-month-old.

Wear layers, but don’t go overboard.

If you intend to wear a child on your person, remember that two bodies create some heat. A hat is not a bad idea for the littles, but unless we’re experiencing an unusual arctic chill, leave the winter jackets at home. I like to wear a fleece headband over my ears, maybe a hoodie or warm cardigan over a long sleeved tee and jeans with sneakers. Unless you’re bringing a tiny baby, light jackets or hoodies with a warm hat should be sufficient. Use your instinct, though. Momma—you know what your people need.

Have fun. Laugh. Make memories.

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I’ll never forget looking up at the sky and seeing one of my daughter’s favorite characters, Lottie Dottie Chicken, in giant hot-air-balloon form! What an unexpected surprise for us all!

It’s easy to feel pressured to get the perfect photo, what with the balloon fiesta being the most photographed event in the world. So I say this being the wife of a photographer who rarely leaves the house without a camera. I know, and I get it. There’s nothing wrong with getting some fun photos with your kiddos to preserve memories. Just don’t let it become your priority. Have fun with your littles. Watch the fiesta through their eyes. Experiencing this wondrous event as a family is the prize.