Hot air balloon festival earns world record with 524 simultaneous launches

Organizers of a hot air balloon festival in New Mexico announced they were awarded a Guinness World Record for launching 524 balloons at the same time.

The organizers of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta said they originally set the record for greatest mass hot air balloon ascent in 2010, when 329 balloons were launched at once.

The festival broke its own record the following year with 345 balloons, but the record was then taken by a French event that featured more than 400 balloons.

Paul Smith, the executive director of the Balloon Fiesta, said organizers decided to stop pursuing the record after it was claimed by the event in France, but organizers realized after the 2019 launch featured 524 balloons that they may have broken the record unintentionally.

Tom Garrity, a spokesman for the festival, said he reached out to Guinness late last year to see if the documentation from the 2019 event would be sufficient to claim the record, and organizers have now received word from the record-keeping organization that their application has been approved.

The 2021 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is scheduled to begin Oct. 2.