The countdown is on to this year’s Balloon Fiesta. 

In total, 567 balloons and 640 pilots representing 16 countries are set to participate in the nine-day event, which gets underway on Friday with Albuquerque Aloft. 

Fiesta officials announced some new features this year, including a pop-up Pace Bike Station, so people can ride the rental bikes to and from Fiesta. 

Also new this year is a program called “X Marks the Spot.” 

Ty Young, president of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta Board of Directors, says the program “will help the community be involved with balloons as they land. There will be names turned in by the crews every day, and there will be a gift packet given away.” 

One event that’s not coming back this year is the America’s Challenge Gas Balloon Race, because a similar event just wrapped up in Switzerland. 

For more information about Balloon Fiesta, click here.

Click here to view 2018 Official Program >>