A truly unbelieveable, wonderful experience. Best way to see it as a visitor is to go online to Albuquerque balloon fiesta website. You can choose a day to go (example - weekend or Mon, Tues, Wed), then choose a place to drive to nearby the event, choose am or pm, and pay for ticket. Then, all u have to do is drive to that area having a parking lot, show your E-ticket, and get on school bus, which takes u to event, and picks u up. So easy to do; $12 for seniors, bit more for adults, and not sure of kids cost. They even have handicapped, small mini-bus to take handicapped people there, and back to hotel or parking lot. This is one of few wondrous things I've seen in life; like walking on glacier, seeing brown bears in AK close uo. Watching those balloons inflate, how the teams work hard to get them up, and then taking off - in dark, and after sunrise, is awesome. Never went to pm event. Lots of food, restrooms. You can take a blanket to sit on, and watch balloons go by. Dress warm for early am, as can be cold. Last 2 years was ok with jacket; got hot later in day. Taking pictures - there is an app that shows you the number and letter (1-12, A-Z) of where each balloon takes off from. USE IT! Some balloons go off in different directions, depending on where wind blows.
Can make photos challenging, but wider shots really show the scope of the event. Close ups are nice, with 1-2 balloons in a shot. Enjoy yourself first, pics second! GO to the vendors tent at the NE end of area. Lots of interesting things to buy for self, or as gift. I have gone last 2 years, and will go again, becuz I enjoy the Fiesta, events around the area, and area from Gallup, NM (jewelry) to Santa Fe, NM. Get hotel/motel reservations about 6 months ahead, to get lower prices and more choices. It's a U.S. treasure!