Hot Air Balloons, Bands, A Beer Pairing, & Wines Stand Out In The Los Angeles Landscape
The glow was not just in the balloons, but in the look of the people seeing the balloons.
The nightly ritual, in which hot air balloons come into a field and light up the evening sky with their flame-generated display, is a highlight of the annual Temecula Balloon & Wine Festival outside of the Southern California town of Temecula.
It certainly is for me but there’s something else that comes to mind when the experiences of this event turns into memories. And that’s the fact that it’s tough to take in everything happening at every moment, but you can easily see enough of everything to make it a satisfying endeavor.
I say that because as the balloons were doing their thing, a concert was taking place in another completely different area of the Lake Skinner Recreation Area grounds. I wanted to be in two places at once, for I love being at concerts, especially as part of a festival, but then again how often does one get to see hot air balloons!?
So myself and a few friends did the next best thing: we watched the balloons show, then caught the last half of the concert (it was Bush, by the way).
Bush is not an act that I would ever seek out to see – it’s one of the many one-time big-name bands that play at festivals in which I occasionally say “hey, I know that song!” – but that’s not the point. Everyone there was having a blast and how could I not, as well?
It also showed the diversity of this event. Here I was at a full-blown concert with some 5,000 screaming people while half an hour earlier I was having more of a spiritual kind of experience with the glowing balloons.
Earlier, the festival showed another one of its sides, a wine picnic. Hundreds of people were sprawled out under shade trees on chairs, blankets and those banana-shaped inflatable things, eating cheese and crackers they had rolled in with their coolers and sipping wine from the adjacent Temecula Valley wineries.
Later, yet a fourth personality emerged, an “after hours” party at the smaller Wine Stage when the Bush concert ended that featured a DJ and dancers playing music to a crowd that brought to mind a Las Vegas nightclub.
One thing I noticed here was that this is where a lot of the event volunteers and the fun people who were manning all those vendor booths earlier in the day wound up at the end of the night. I made a note to remember this for next year’s event so I can try and meet up with some of those attractive booth girls.
Somewhere in all this, I managed to squeeze in a beer and food pairing, matching beers from Los Angeles brewer Golden Road with food prepared by the chef of the nearby Pechanga Resort & Casino. I would up having about six or seven 8-ounce beers and great food like mac & cheese with a bacon-rapped jalapeno (yeah!), grilled shrimp and a BBQ’d roast.
One again, I did not take a balloon ride – for that, you’ve got to rise by 5:30 in the morning – but I did wander into the grounds on Sunday morning to take in a kind of balloon lift, where people get in the baskets and the tethered balloons rise up to about 75 feet. That was cool!
When the event was over, my PubClub.com associate Chris asked me what my highlight moments were from the weekend. His was obvious because he loves hearing bands and the Friday and Saturday night concerts were at the top of his list.
“I don’t know,” I said in a contemplative tone. “I don’t really have one because everything I did was fun and were all on about the same enjoyment level.”
That seemed the best way to describe the event as a whole, too.
The 2018 festival is June 1-3. Click here for a complete guide with ticket information and the lineup of bands.