I found uplifting news this weekend about an annual festival in the City of León, the State of Guanajuato, México. According to the Balloon Federation of America, the Festival Internacional del Globo de León (FIG) is one of the top three events of its kind in the world. It is the largest hot air balloon event in Latin America.
In past years, 200 air balloon enthusiasts from 100 countries have gathered to grace the skies and put on a colorful show in mid-November. In 2020, due to the pandemic, there were 100 balloonists from 45 countries. Participants came from Mexico, Costa Rica, Australia, Guatemala, Brazil, the US, Canada, Spain, Germany, Lithuania, Russia, and France among others. This was the 18th year! In previous years, more than 300,000 spectators attended the festival; this November the audience was reduced, although many thousands viewed it online.
One fun festival tradition is the launch of many character shaped balloons: La Matryoshka, Penguin Sherlock Holmes, Little Dog, Baby Monster, La Gallina Pintadita (Painted Chicken) and Bob Esponja (Sponge Bob).
The only catch? Spectators and balloonists are up at dawn for the event. Metropolitan Park (Parque Metropolitano de León) opens at 5 am. Lift off is between 6:30 and 7 am.
In addition to scores of colored hot balloon launches, there is live music throughout the four days. Festivities go into the evening with a show called Magic Night Glow; the burners of balloons moored to the ground light up in rhythm with music (since balloons aren’t safe to fly at night).
One article I read cautioned that the festival is an exhibition, rather than balloon rides for the public. I think I prefer it that way, standing on the ground looking up rather than spending a teeth chattering morning rising hundreds of feet up in a tiny square basket.
After researching this event, I hope to attend with my family in 2021 or 2022! For a video of the festival, see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ovCtlPiIOn0
Gracias for Flying Fake Flamenco! ¡Olé! –Rebecca