ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The biggest event in New Mexico, the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, is back this year. Organizers made that announcement Friday. COVID-19 restrictions forced the cancellation of the Balloon Fiesta last fall but the nine-day event will happen this year starting on October 2.

The event will not be an abbreviated or smaller event, organizers are promising the full Balloon Fiesta experience complete with the launch of more than 600 balloons. “It is the real deal, absolutely, we are moving forward and planning on having all of the launch spaces filled, and launching in two waves as part of that mass ascension,” said Tom Garrity, Balloon Fiesta spokesman.

This will be the 49th Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta starting exactly six months from Friday. Pilots are raring to go. “The stars of Balloon Fiesta are the pilots, and it’s been great to see pilots already flying around Albuquerque, we’ve been getting a lot of interest from balloon pilots around the country,” Garrity said.

Tickets will go on sale on July 2. KRQE News 13 asked if masks would be required and what other COVID-19 restrictions might be in place. Balloon Fiesta says they won’t have answers to those questions until much closer to the event. Balloon Fiesta officials say they will continue working with the state Health Department to make the even COVID-safe.