Wed, Oct 11: Depart in the morning for Albuquerque, New Mexico. Upon arrival, take a guided tour of Albuquerque, including Route 66, the University of New Mexico, Country Club, Nob Hill, downtown and other historic areas. End with an Old Town Plaza orientation walking tour. Following the tour, check in at the Hotel Albuquerque at Old Town, which is nestled in the Old Town Plaza and museum district. This evening, a Welcome Dinner is included. (Meal: Dinner)
Thu, Oct 12: Rise and shine early for the Dawn Patrol Show and Morning Glow, a choreographed inflation and launch set to music. This is the opening act for the Balloon Fiesta’s most popular event, the Special Shape Rodeo™. See the all of the unique special shaped balloons launch and fill the sky! You’ll have access to the Chaser’s Club hospitality tent for breakfast. Across the 200 acres of the Balloon Fiesta Park are booths selling balloon memorabilia and other merchandise, such as local art and jewelry as well as food vendors with many options. Don’t miss the Chainsaw Carving Invitational where professional chainsaw artists turn wood into works of art. Following the event and free time on the grounds, head to Sandia Peak overlooking Albuquerque for an included lunch and tram ride on the Sandia Peak Tramway. Ride the tram to the top of the peak, which rises to 10,000 feet and offers a spectacular view. Take some stunning pictures at the top before returning to the hotel to enjoy the remainder of your day on your own. (B,L)
Fri, Oct 13: The morning is free today to spend as you please, a good time to take an optional hot air balloon ride or an optional visit to the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. This afternoon, depart to nearby Santa Fe. Upon arrival, get acquainted with New Mexico’s state capitol on a narrated orientation tour, passing “museum hill,” Canyon Road, the historic rail yard and a walk through the plaza – all to prepare you for a full afternoon of free time! Following the tour consider visiting the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, the Palace of Governors (the oldest municipal building in the United States) or the many art galleries and boutiques. Enjoy dinner on your own in Santa Fe before returning to Albuquerque. (B)
Sat, Oct 14: This morning, head out to Balloon Fiesta grounds for a Mass Ascension! This is your chance to see hundreds of colorful hot air balloons fill the air. Not just the special shapes, but all balloons participate in this event. The mass ascension is led by a balloon flying the American flag to the strains of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner.” Again, have access to the Chasers Club hospitality tent. This afternoon, travel the scenic Turquoise Trail to Madrid. Once a booming coal mining town, then ghost town from 1953-1973, Madrid is now a creative community with over 40 shops and galleries as well as the Old Coal Town Museum. The town gained more popularity when the 2007 movie “Wild Hogs” featured Madrid as home to Maggie’s Diner. Spend some free time here for shopping and lunch. Return to the hotel for a rest break. This evening, join the group to return to the Balloon Fiesta grounds for an included visit to the Anderson-Abruzzo Balloon Museum. The museum stands as the main icon on the grounds and the exhibits display the history and highlights of ballooning as well as showcasing a vast collection of balloons, art work, and aerial artifacts. Experience the Dine & Glow event at the museum, where you will delight in an included dinner, and spectacular views of the Balloon Glow and After Glow ™ Fireworks Show! You may also spend more free time on Balloon Fiesta grounds if you like. Return to the hotel following the events. (B,D)
Sun, Oct 15: Morning will be at leisure. Afternoon transfer to the airport to fly back to Indianapolis. (B)
Hotel Albuquerque at Old Town
A landmark hotel located adjacent to the Old Town Plaza, near shops, restaurants and museums. Recognized by Travel & Leisure magazine as one of the top stylish hotels, the hotel has a comfortable Southwestern flair. Highlights: guestrooms appointed with genuinely crafted Southwestern furnishings with seating area • in-room coffee/tea maker • complimentary Wi-Fi Internet access • restaurant • bar/lounge • large outdoor pool • hot tub • spa • fitness center.