Chesapeake Bay Balloon Festival
Updated: Jul 18
Are you suffering from cabin fever in this 2020 pandemic? If you are looking for a fun day trip from the DC area this summer, head to picturesque Talbot County on the Eastern shore for the unforgettable 3-day Chesapeake Bay Hot Air Balloon Festival!
The annual Chesapeake Bay Balloon Festival is a must-visit, at least once. Featuring 75+ arts & crafts vendors, over 20 food vendors and 20 hot air balloons (the stars of the show)!
Grab your sun-tents, stadium chairs, picnic blankets and masks and make the short 1.5 hour drive from DC to the gorgeous setting of Triple Creek Winery between July 31 - August 2, 2020. Recent social media posts indicate that this event will still take place this year, despite COVID-19.
I just love the drive to the Eastern shore. Miles and miles of rural cornfields, fresh fruit stands and the smell of the marsh put a smile on my face every time. I grew up spending my summers at our old family beach condo in Bethany Beach, so there's nostalgia with this drive that brings me back to childhood. Do you have special places like that?
Depending on what time you arrive, the parking can be quite full. But don't worry, you won't have to walk those huge fields - wait for the tractor to swing by and hitch a ride to the ticket booth.
When I last attended in the summer of 2018, the winery was giving away tastings in their tasting barn.
This year, I believe there are plans to expand to both wines and beers under one of the big outdoor tents. Hopefully this will help to eliminate the long lines that we experienced.
But at least the beautiful views of the vineyard made the wait pleasant.
The balloon and vendor fields are miles deep and depending on where you set up your tent/blanket in relation to the balloons, it will be crowded. After all, everyone is there for the same balloon views! But I liked this couple's idea to get away from the buzz to enjoy their wine tastings in this romantic setting under the vines.
When you head over to the balloon fields, you'll pass the kid-zone (not sure they will be offering this year due to COVID-19?!) and two large shade tents. I found these big-top tents to be way too crowded for my liking - regardless of Coronavirus, you are better off bringing your own tent or just being prepared with lots of sunscreen and a wide-brimmed hat!
There is no shortage of food trucks and of course several of them were serving Maryland crab - from cab fritters to crab bisque to crab cakes and crab fries. Yum! What's your favorite Maryland crab treat?
My favorite beverage vendor (as well as everyone else's) was serving fresh-squeezed lemonade and limeade. Mmm!
But I opted for a frozen pina colada to help me cool off. Is there anything more refreshing than a frozen drink on a hot day?!
With more than 75 artisan vendors to shop from, I am not surprised I managed to find a little something ;) I loved these nautical and Maryland themed dog collars from Beltwaymerch.com.
Being from Maryland, I thought it would be cute for our black lab to sport a pretty new collar. Here is a picture of her in it - she still wears it two years later. The pink crabs help people know that she is a girl.
Note - dogs are not allowed at the event.
The vendors are great, but let's get to why we were really there - blue skies framing brightly hued balloons as they ascend rising high above the crowds!
Watching the balloons inflate and take off was fun. Everywhere you turned the balloons were in different stages - from inflating to lift off and then way up high in the sky...
It's cool to look back at the photos and see the progression of the day.
Also interesting to see how different the sky looks depending on the time of day and angle.
I loved how they were all timed to go up one right after another.
But the best part of the day was experiencing the magic at night! New fun character balloons were tethered and never were released into the sky. At least not before we left for the night - we had dinner reservations to get to and we were ready to be out of the heat by 8pm.
Here are some of the progression shots as the animated finale' balloons prepared for their evening glow.
Once nightfall hit, the illuminating flames cast a magical glow on the balloons that was really special - and the perfect photo opp of this super fun event!
Finally, see how they glow against the dark black skies!
I always forget how dark the country can be without the back light of the warm city glow of DC. Thankfully on our walk back to the car (we skipped the tractor ride) we had the back-glow of the luminous balloons!
We had a blast! It was definitely an experience to remember and has since become one of my fondest memories of our Eastern shore trips.
You can get tickets to the 2020 Chesapeake Bay Balloon Festival HERE. If you don't make it this year, keep in it mind for next summer!
If you do plan to go and are looking for some place to eat, I can recommend some great outdoor dining. Check out these other posts for outdoor dining in nearby Kent Island!
Have you been to a balloon festival? What's your favorite thing to do or place to visit on the Eastern shore?