10/05/2012 08:36 am ET | Updated Oct 12, 2012

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta Starts October 6 (PHOTOS)

The world's largest hot-air balloon rally kicks off this weekend, as the 41st annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta lifts off Saturday morning.

The nine-day event draws more than 700,000 people, both balloonists and spectators alike, to the Albuquerque area.

This year, many visitors are skipping traditional hotel rooms in favor of vacation rentals, KRQE reports.

The first Fiesta event is scheduled for Saturday with a pre-dawn morning patrol at 5:45 a.m. The kick-off "mass ascension," in which numerous balloons lift off simultaneously, is scheduled for 7 a.m.

Below, take a look at colorful Fiestas from years past.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article misstated the number of people who attend the event. In 2011, more than 700,000 people attended.

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta Through The Years