Pride Weekend isn’t the only uplifting celebration that happens every November in greater Palm Springs. The Cathedral City International Hot Air Balloon Festival is one of the world’s top hot air balloon festivals, attracting balloonists and spectators from around the world to several Coachella Valley locations in mid-November.
The 3-day event starts early each morning with a picturesque sunrise launch of more than 20 balloons. It’s cool (and free) to watch as the balloons fire up their burners and slowly take shape, becoming magically airborne over the desert as the sun comes up. The balloons launch at daybreak from Agua Caliente Casino Rancho Mirage on Friday & Sunday and from Westin Resort and Spa Rancho Mirage on Saturday (about a 20-minute drive from Twin Palms Resort). For a once-in-a-lifetime experience, you can even arrange to participate in one of the morning launches and take flight above the Coachella Valley with the event’s local balloon partner, Fantasy Balloon Flights. But even from the ground, watching the balloons lift off makes for an incredible vacation memory.
Not an early riser? Once the sun goes to bed, the humongous balloons are tethered to the ground and the Balloon GLOW begins. As pilots fire the burners, flames light up the balloons creating a colorful glow against the blackness of the night sky. You can catch a “Mini Glow” and drone show on Friday, but the big event is Saturday when over 20 balloons from around the world will light up Cathedral City streets from City Hall to Agua Caliente Casino Cathedral City. Perfect start to a romantic evening!
More Than Hot Air Balloons
In addition to balloons, the festival includes a gourmet Food Truck Fiesta at Cathedral City’s new Amphitheater Park. Enjoy fair-like vibes alongside yummy eats from some of Southern California’s best food trucks, live musical entertainment, and a beer & wine garden. Tethered balloon rides are available daily, and there’s also an artisan market and classic car show on Saturday.
While you’re in the neighborhood, Cathedral City is home to two popular gay bars. The Roost Lounge is a laid-back local favorite for karaoke and drag bingo, while legendary Barracks caters to the leather & kink crowd.
VIP 3-Day All-Access passes that include a tethered ballon ride and individual day tickets are available on Eventbrite, but tickets really aren’t necessary if you just want to admire the balloons. If your visit to Twin Palms Resort happens to coincide with the Cathedral City International Hot Air Balloon Festival, you should definitely check it out.