3 day weekend…hot air balloon festival paired with a “battle of the bands”…sign me up!
Seeing hot air balloons in flight has been a bucket list item for me so when I heard about the Balloons and Tunes Festival in Kanab, Utah, I was all in. I will admit that deep down I was secretly was hoping to see the Wizard and catch a ride back to Oz…(this is normal right?!)
Sadly, the weather was just not cooperative for any launches to occur. Not to be disheartened by this unfortunate occurrence…the show went on and a great time was still had.
Being that it was a festival, food was consumed!
- My heart melted when I saw the Havana Cabana, a Cuban sandwich and a cafecito were ordered. The combination spoke to my soul, taking me momentarily back to S.Florida i.e. home. It was amazing.
- Breakfast was at Peekaboo Woodfire Grill: a great spot for vegans and vegetarians as the menu has multiple selections that are v/v friendly – a friend ate the Huevos Rancheros and said it was tasty. I had the Cinnamon French Toast, which sadly didn’t live up to my expectations.
- Dinner was at the Iron Horse Restaurant. The establishment is a tasteful and fun recreation of the Old West – right down to a mock village perfect for an Instagram-able photo shoot. The menu is complete with custom cocktails, brisket sandwiches, fried okra, BBQ Chili Cheese Fries and more. A must experience for those visiting the area. The service was excellent and the food was delightful.
The weather was chilly, to say the least, however there were a couple options to help keep from freezing: 1) Hot chocolate 2) Cafecito 3) Dancing to the music played by 12+ bands battling for top spot in “Battle of the Bands” 4) Space heaters strategically placed in the vendor area and 5) Balloon Glow.
What is the Balloon Glow you may ask? Think giant flame throwers perched atop a basket…VOILA! The balloon operators set up on Main Street and light up the street with light, and heat. A magnificent showing of flames and the warm, warm heat that is given off (delightful to be sure)! I got super lucky and was able to get in a basket and pull the levers to make the flames go SWOOSHHH! It was epic – many thanks to the operator for Redneck Cowboy balloon out of New Mexico for allowing folks in the basket for this cool experience. Also, his pilot in training is my new heroine (she is 12 and super awesome).
Following the Balloon Glow another memorable event occurred. The Lantern Festival.
Open the lantern, light the base on the tiki torch (or a lighter should you have one handy), wait for the heat to fill the lantern and as it is ready to take off, make a wish and set it free. To see all the lanterns floating up into the sky was nothing short of magical.
While I wasn’t able to live my dream of seeing multiple hot air balloons floating, like brilliant petals in the clouds, I did get to watch Smokey the Hot Air Balloon Bear be inflated and staged on the ground. It was pretty neat to have a ground perspective of the size of the balloon to basket, and the backdrop against the snow dusted red rock was stunning.
Would I go back next year? I’m not sure. I think my next attempt at checking off this bucket list item will be the “Mother of All Hot Air Balloon Festivals” in Albuquerque, NM. Will I go back to Kanab? Absolutely. While the weather wasn’t cooperative for the balloons to launch, the event was well run and everyone was super friendly. A major kudos to the organizers for making great use of text message to communicate the event schedule.
Kanab is absolutely picturesque and charming. I do think my next trip will be when it is a tad warmer as there are some hiking trails that I have my eye on tackling.
As John Steinbeck said “People don’t take trips, trips take people.”