This year we were fortunate enough to attend the annual Regata de Globos (Balloon Race) in Ajijic. Locals have told us it is one of the highlights of the year, and they are right!

Have you seen the movie Tangled?  If you haven’t…go see it!

Anyhow, Rapunzel’s goal is to go see what the “floating lights” are in the sky. She discovers they are handmade paper hot air balloons that the villagers float into the night sky.

Well, I’m happy to say that this craft is alive and well in Mexico!  I have seen them make small and large balloons and set them free at night. It is a beautiful and inspiring sight to see!

This Globo Race was not really a race at all. And it was done in the daylight. If it continued into the night hours we did not get to witness it. It started after lunch and we stayed for nearly 5 or so hours, until we were all worn out!

This local Ajijic event featured about a dozen local teams that handcrafted tissue paper balloons for months in advance, and launched them all in the field on this one particular day. One team confessed to have been making a balloon a day for almost 2 months. The globos are crafted only of tissue paper and glue. No stiching is allowed in the event, and also no tape (although I did see them using tape as a last-minute patching system as they were filling them).  While a very small balloon may only take a few hours and take 25 sheets or so, a large balloon can potentially take up to 600 sheets and require several days of labor.

For the event, each team seemed to have a unique method for filling the globos. Some teams stood on ladders while team members fanned in fresh air with cardboard. Others brought “chimneys” which they lit up, and filled the balloon by drafting the hot air in the balloon until it was filled (such as the team below).

Once the globos were filled, the teams would light a circular ring that had a cloth tied in the center, drenched in kerosene. The flame was suspended in the lower center of the balloon, supplying the hot air needed for flight. We saw that the teams would also tie a partially filled water bottle to the bottom to help weight it (bottom down) during its flight.

All of the spectators would then watch the team members lift the balloons to the sky, and cheer them as they flew away.

A balloon has to be very balanced so that it does not tip in flight, and catch itself on fire. Unfortunately, the wind can easily tilt a balloon to the side, no matter how well it is crafted, and quickly send the whole globo up in flames.

But if I’m being totally honest…I will admit that this is one of the pleasures of seeing this. Why is it that most people truly enjoyed watching these beautiful globos go up in flames, and come soaring down among the crowds?!  The fear? The excitement? The fires?!

The tissue paper sometimes burns up before hitting the ground, but the metal ring in the middle does NOT burn up. It comes barreling down like a fiery bowling ball!

Some of these fiery messes ended up in the middle of crowds (with little boys running over the fan the flames out), and others surely happened on rooftops, farmers fields, etc.

This feature alone confirmed the fact that this event would NEVER be legal in the States.

And that is the beauty of it!!

To get a taste for this event, watch this short video I made of the day’s festivities!  And then go craft your own (just don’t burn down your neighbor’s house)!!

3 Responses to “Regata de Globos in Ajijic”

  1. Awesome video!

  2. Lorelei Leishman says:

    Thanks again for posting this blog. It sure added to our trip to Ajijic. I enjoyed meeting you and your family. I am really sorry we had to leave before this festival of balloons. It looks fabulous. Maybe one day we will make it there. Keep in touch.

    • Hi Lorelei! It was such a pleasure to meet, and really nice to know that you found the blog useful. It makes me happy to know that someone is actually reading it! 🙂 I hope to see you again soon, and also meet your husband next time! Let me know when you’re headed our way again!


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