Why the Kanab Balloon Festival Should Top Your Bucket List
Apr 25, 2016
By: Ann Whittaker
If you don't like February, then you probably haven't ever been to the Kanab Balloon Festival. Once you go, you'll be looking forward to warm weather, pretty hot air balloons dotting the sky above desert landscapes, authentic German pastries, s'more school with Chef Shon, and, if you're lucky, a ride in a balloon. And this festival has lots of live local music--a battle of Utah bands that continues through the entire weekend.
Hot Air Balloon Activities
1. Ride a Balloon
You can pay for a balloon ride to experience the beauty of Kanab's red rock landscape if you're not afraid of heights. No worries. You can trust these pilots. Many have been flying for decades, and they take their hobby seriously. Best part about flying: you'll get to know your pilot and when you see him and his girlfriend around town, you can shout hello and then invite yourself to join them for dinner. Friendliest people you'll ever meet. BFF's for life--because you put your life in their hands and they totally didn't screw it up.
2. Watch the Balloons
Balloons launch Friday and Saturday morning early in the morning--you'll want to arrive between 6:30 and 7:00 a.m. because that's when the pilots and their crew start to fire things up. Bundle up. Mornings are cold, but you'll be toasty enough once the sun really comes out. You'll get a really good view of the rainbow of balloons in the sky if you hike up to K-Hill.
3. Crew a Balloon
If you want a free ride, you can help one of the pilots set up their hot air balloon in the morning. Show up Friday morning and ask around to see if any pilots need any help. You'll need some muscles and a willingness to learn and get bossed a bit.
4. Center Street Glow
On Saturday night, all the hot air balloons set up on Main Street and put on a light show as they fire up their balloons. Have your camera ready--they light up at random, and when you're least expecting it.
Main Street Fair & Live Music
Throughout the entire festival, you can hang out on Main Street and try local foods, traditional foods, hand-made jewelry and other crafts, and join Chef Shon on Saturday night for S'mores School (learn how to make gourmet s'mores and devour them on the spot). And you can try your hand at paleontological identification and cleaning up the bones.
The locals love it. The visitors love it. It's pretty magic. Saturday night, after the Center Street Glow, you can get a lantern (you can purchase one from the city's booth on Main Street) and light it on one of the dozens of tiki lights. Send off your wish with hundreds of others.
Where to Eat
Sego Restaurant | Regional New American Cuisine
Rocking V Cafe | Slow Food, Vegetarian, Meat, Fish
Willow Canyon Gear, Books & Espresso
Desert Star Cafe
Best Friends Animal Sanctuary ($5 Vegetarian Buffet)