Temecula Valley Balloon & Wine Festival

Temecula Valley Balloon & Wine Festival
Photo: tvbwf.com
The city of Temecula, California is the heart of the Temecula Valley AVA (American Viticultural Area) and a prominent tourist destination due to its vineyards, wineries, resort accommodations, championship golf courses, and festivals. One of the city’s main attractions is the annual Temecula Valley Balloon & Wine Festival held on the first weekend of June or the last weekend of May.

The Valley Balloon & Wine Festival was created in 1983 as the Rancho California Balloon and Wine Festival. Its founders were Walt Darren, an avid balloonist and commercial airline pilot, and Evelyn Harker, a fund raiser and event organizer. Darren wanted Temecula to have its own hot air balloon festival and Harker thought that the event would draw even more attention if it involved some other attractions of the Temecula Valley such as wine tasting and culinary presentations.

The inaugural festival was held in 1984 and turned out a great success. It attracted over 4,000 attendees which was almost a half of the city’s population at the time. The festival featured 35 balloons that were launched from the Rancho California Plaza (now Tower Plaza).

Today, the program of Temecula Valley Balloon & Wine Festival includes an impressive array of events and activities for visitors of all ages. There are morning balloon launches and evening balloon glows, wine tasting from the finest local wineries, food and wine pairing, wine competitions, jazz and rock concerts on several stages, an arts and crafts fair, fine art exhibitions, kids events, and more.

Hot air balloons are one of the festival’s main attractions. Morning balloon launches occur at sunrise weather permitting. The balloons take off at about 6:30 am and land by 8:30 am. Several balloons are attached to the ground by ropes for free tethered balloon rides. Tethered rides begin at approximately 7:30 am and last for about 2 hours.

The evening balloon glow is a real highlight of the festival. At sunset, the balloons ignite their burners and perform a choreographed routine to the music, glowing like huge Chinese lanterns or light bulbs. The evening glow is a truly spectacular display you shouldn’t miss.

Wine-related events at the Temecula Valley Balloon & Wine Festival include wide and beer tasting, wine and food pairing, and beer and food pairing. Note that alcoholic beverages are not sold to anyone under the age of 21. The festival also features vendors at the food court and the commercial court, as well as exciting entertainment like live concerts. Past performers include Five for Fighting, Peter Frampton, Chick Wicks, James Otto, Gin Blossoms, Collective Soul, Sugar Ray, Kenny Loggins, Blake Shelton, and more.

Temecula Valley Balloon & Wine Festival

Photo: Derral Chen




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