Music has been part of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta for decades.
At first, it was the National Anthem.
Over the years, along Main Street at Balloon Fiesta Park, many musicians have graced the stage – both on the local and national level.
In 2013, fiesta officials branched out and created Music Fiesta. The series was created in addition to the music featured on Main Street.
Erica Hahn, Concessions/Artisans/Main Street Entertainment/Balloon Discovery Center manager, says over the course of nearly a decade, there have been several nationally known acts perform as part of the series.
In 2013, Darius Rucker, Charlie Worsham and Derryl Perry were the first to kick off the music series.
Perry enjoyed the experience in 2013 and returned for the 2021 Balloon Fiesta, where he performed on Main Street.
“Albuquerque is a special place for me,” Perry says. “When I was on tour, I’d plan to spend a week in Albuquerque for some time to rest. When I played Balloon Fiesta, it’s been magical. I always look forward to getting back there and seeing a different audience each time. People come from all over the world for this event.”
Through the years, Music Fiesta has seen the likes of Josh Turner, David Nail, Sawyer Brown, The Band Perry, Gloriana, Chris Young, Parmalee, Billy Currington, Phil Vassar, Old Dominion, Michael Ray, Justin Moore and Cassadee Pope.
After a two-year hiatus, Music Fiesta returns to the event with country headliner Cole Swindell on Saturday, Oct. 8.
Also included on the bill is American Country Music New Female of the Year 2022 winner, Lainey Wilson.
The opening act will be the country band Restless Road, which is made up of Zach Beeken, Colton Pack and Garrett Nichols.
Hahn says after the hot air balloons have taken to the sky and landed for the day, there is plenty of music planned each day along Main Street.
She strives to put together a list of performers that is not only diverse, but will draw a crowd.
“(Over the years), the entertainment has leaned on being local musicians or performers,” Hahn says.
With Music Fiesta back in the lineup, Hahn has been able to reach further and have more diversity on all levels.
This year’s slate of performers includes the U.S. Air Force Academy Band, Tylor Brandon, Mountain Top Rock, Black Pearl Band, Cellicion Traditional Dancers from Zuni Pueblo, Sky City Buffalo Ram Dancers from Acoma Pueblo, Entourage Jazz, The Panhandlers, Nathaniel Krantz, Mirage – A Santana Experience, and the 44th Army Band.
Hahn says in addition to Music Fiesta and music on Main Street, there will also be strolling performers scheduled on double session days from 8:30-10:30 a.m. and 5-7 p.m. These performances take place on the North and South ends of Main Street.
This year’s performers include Mariachi Tenampa, National Institute of Flamenco and Emergence Productions.
Hahn says the event tends to lean a little more country when it comes to music.
“We will have jazz and some Native dancers on the stage,” she says. “We try to also have performers roaming around the park. This year we will have mariachi and flamenco groups.”
The performers are selected for the October event between January and March.
Hahn says the National Anthem is performed each day at 7 a.m.
She says it’s her job to create an atmosphere that complements the hot air balloons, which is why the music and performers list is so diverse.
“There’s always some sort of music happening after the balloons are gone,” she says. “There’s something for everyone and it’s a great opportunity to expose a new performer to a bigger audience.”