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The Bradbury’s Busiest Month of the Year?

It’s not what you might think.
October 31, 2019

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. Photo credit © Rinus Baak | Dreamstime.com

  • Stacy Baker
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Between student field trips in the spring and a steady stream of “bucket listers” in the summer, one might think that Museum attendance peaks during warmer weather. However, those spring and summer months are not our busiest. While the Bradbury welcomes over 3,000 students during the spring field-trip season and averages over 1,500 visitors each week in the summer, the Museum is actually at its busiest in October.

So, why is October our busiest month? What could possibly bring almost 3,000 visitors to our Museum on the mesa in the first full week of October or attract over 2,200 visitors to a single event? The answer is two long-standing annual events. One is the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta: a nine-day event that brings hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the world to New Mexico and over 400 visitors a day to the Bradbury. The other is the Museum’s annual Halloween extravaganza: High-Tech Halloween

Each day during the Balloon Fiesta, visitors from dozens of countries, including Canada, Germany, Peru, and Hungary, make their way to the Museum as they explore New Mexico True in its myriad forms. For many of these travelers, their journey to New Mexico’s signature event includes a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit Los Alamos and learn more about the legendary town’s complicated and consequential history. 

At the Museum, we welcome the opportunity to greet each of these travelers and to offer interpretation and insight to visitors curious about Los Alamos, the Manhattan Project, and of course, the Lab. And then, just nine days after the first tour bus of Balloon Fiesta patrons floods our doors, the stream of global guests subsides a bit, and staff at the Museum turn their attention to High-Tech Halloween.

An annual event for over 25 years, High-Tech Halloween brings dozens of exciting hands-on demonstrations to the Museum for the thousands of hobgoblins, superheroes, princesses, and parents who walk through our ghoul-friendly galleries each year in search of spooky science. From snakes and spiders to erupting pumpkins and spooky sounds, High-Tech Halloween is a show sans sugar, but packed with extraordinary, everyday science. 

Between these two events, October is by far the busiest (and most entertaining!) month at the Bradbury. Of course, the arrival of thousands of tourists doesn’t mean a pause in other work at the Museum. The Museum’s demanding pace of exhibit design, collections management, educational programming, and marketing and event management continues, making the first full month of autumn a little chaotic, but intensely rewarding. 

More information on events at the Bradbury can be found here.