Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta saw more than 820,000 visitors

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Despite some days of bad weather, this year’s cavalcade of hundreds of hot air balloons in New Mexico’s high desert drew nearly 830,000 people.

Organizers of the nine-day Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, which celebrated its 50th year, released attendance figures Friday.

An estimated 828,800 guests came to see 648 hot air balloons along with nearly 120 special character ones.

The festival, which ran from Oct. 1-9, saw eight liftoff sessions for balloons canceled because of gusty winds and other weather conditions.

Still, the fiesta remains one of the most photographed events in the world. It’s also an economic driver for the state’s largest city. Every year people from around the U.S. and abroad come for a chance to see multiple giant balloons up close.

The fiesta has grown to include a cadre of ballooning professionals from outside the U.S. Nearly 20 countries were represented including the United Kingdom, Canada, Brazil and Croatia.

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