Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta Attracts Global Audience

The 50th International Balloon Fiesta started on Saturday in Albuquerque, which is in the U.S. state of New Mexico.

Since its inception fifty years ago, this celebration has been a hit with both onlookers and hot-air balloon pilots.

This year, there will be balloon rides, balloon shows in the air, exhibitions, and auctions. The end of the Fiesta will be on October 9.

Hundreds of balloons will launch over the nine-day celebration. Pilots and spectators from throughout the world have participated for 50 years.

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta has become an economic driver for the state's largest city and a chance for enthusiasts to see huge balloons inflated.

This year, there will be three of the original pilots who went to the first fiesta in 1972, as well as family members of other pilots.

In that year, 13 balloons took off from an empty lot next to a shopping centre on the edge of Albuquerque. It is now a big production that costs a lot of money.

Pilot Gene Dennis, who is now 78 years old, remembers the snowstorm that nearly made her miss that first fiesta.

Denise Wiederkehr McDonald rode her dad's balloon to the first fiesta. Friday, she travelled from Colorado to repeat the 1972 flight.

Professional balloonists from all over Europe including Switzerland, Australia, Brazil, Croatia, Mexico, Taiwan, Ukraine, and Taiwan are participating this year.