When to go: The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta takes place Oct. 6-14. Mass balloon ascensions are on Saturdays and Sundays at 7 a.m.
Getting there: Southwest Airlines (800-531-5601) is offering the best fare between Los Angeles and Albuquerque during Fiesta time at $184 round trip. The normal 21-day, advance-purchase rate is $98 round trip. America West (800-247-5692) has a red-eye flight for $208 round trip. Delta (800-221-1212) offers a $94 one-way ticket on weekends, and a $61 one-way weekday fare.
Accommodations: The Albuquerque Hilton is sold out for Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 5-6, but is still open for bookings Oct. 7-14. Rates: $75 per night, double occupancy. Call (800) 821-1901. Ramada Inn is showing space available, from $92 per night. Call (800) 272-6232. For a listing of approximately 40% of the hotel/motel rooms in Albuquerque, contact the Albuquerque Convention and Visitors Bureau, P.O. Box 26866, Albuquerque, N.M. 87125, (800) 284-2282. The bureau maintains a weekend hot line for updates on available rooms during the Fiesta. Call (505) 243-3696.
How to fly: To arrange balloon flights during the Fiesta, contact World Balloon Corp., the official balloon company of the AIBF and the only one sanctioned to book ballooning during the event, at (505) 293-6800. Flights last 30 to 45 minutes and cost $135 on weekdays, $150 on weekends.