2000 Pound Horses, Amazing Armor and Ale

Battling to the death, peering through a quarter inch eye slot in their helmets to knock their challengers, this is no ordinary horse ride. Oh no my friend, this is a mount on magnificent horses with English gladiators wearing 130 pounds of steel and riding full blast at 30 MPH with ultra sharp lances.  This is the action of the joust and one of the many events at this year’s Big Bear Renaissance Faire in Fawnskin, the north shore of the lake August 2-3, 9-10, 16-17. Reservations for lodging are handled by Big Bear City Concierge. You will want to plan your vacation around this great event and get more details about the event in Big Bear

Big Bear Renaissance Faire

Large men in full body armor charge at 30 MPH on 2000 pound horses… just for the fun of it at the Big Bear Renaissance Faire each August. Gold gilded invitations are available from the Queen.

Hello my dear, if something a bit less crude is more your style, perhaps you’d like to meet the Knights of Mayhem and sit at the Warriors Table or see the Queen and have tea with her and the royal court. Of course Queen Elizabeth will be there in all her majesty and will reign over the enchanted shire this and every year.  She and her royal court will regale you with news from her royal castle.  She will hold court and those who gain her favor may be knighted.

The esteemed Lord Mayor can be seen wandering the lanes of the enchanted shire along with other entertainment to round out your experience.

The Knights of Mayhem –130 pounds of steel armor never looked this good, these warriors mount 2,000-pound horses and charge at each other with solid hemlock lances at speeds of up to 30-mph while peering through a quarter-inch eye slot in their helmet. Real men. Real weapons. And, yes, sometimes real blood. This is full-contact jousting at its best.

Suspended Reality – Combining aerial acrobats with Shakespearean theater, this group of talented performers is a crowd pleaser.  Fantasy, magic and open minds take flight as this troupe delivers in the style of the Old Globe Theater presentations. 

The Belles of Bedlam – It is so loverly how these ladies lollygag and romp in song and merriment through the daily chores of what it is like to live and run an Inn in the old Middle Ages.

21st Century Chilvary – How does one get a feel for Chivalry in a world where popular culture is steeped in the likes of gangsta rap and the Simpsons?  Step back to a time when courtesy and gentility were practiced, personal honor was paramount and tradition is the name of the game.

The Nightingale – As a group of musicians, Nightingale is top of the line music for all ears.  Sit back and listen as they regale about the times, the era and the life of old England.

Mullaney  as a high energy group with different kinds of instruments, Mullaney has an “unplugged style that is non traditional and very organic.  From new arrangements of traditional tunes and Celtic favorites their sound spans centuries. Offering an extensive repertoire of songs and styles representing hundreds of years, there is something for everyone in each performance.

The mistress of tales Victoria Goring, spins never-before-told stories with the help of her audience. As the Dueling Damsel, she also teaches sword fighting skills to those children who are brave enough to pick up a blade.

Gallows Humor – Enter the old country with this band of gypsies   playing a macabre mix of music that stirs the souls and raises the spirits…literally they will rock the graveyard!

Ciran the Gypsy Magician will entertain all who care to participate, and pirate magician El Moro will entertain those who think they know a thing or two about sleight of hand. Who doesn’t want to see vanishing dragons, disappearing henchmen and gold ducets appear out of anyone’s ears?

Cutthroat Reef –  “A crew of salty sea dogs from across the seven seas. Their rowdy renditions of sea chanteys and drinking songs will make the rafters roar as they bring ashore the life of a sailor.”

The Renaissance Faire brings merry old England to Big Bear Lake while educating young about the history of the Middle Ages.

Passado Action Theatre – “Shakespeare Unplugged” is a collection of Shakespearean vignettes filled with bawdy humor, physical comedy and outrageous swordplay. The show includes accurate – yet slightly irreverent – treatments of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Romeo and Juliet, Twelfth Night, Taming of the Shrew and more! A great intro to this master writer.

Zaria –  Named in honor of the Slavic goddess of beauty, youth, and sunrise, this troupe is based on a foundation of feminine strength and positive energy and well dance.

For your pleasure, the Faire is set on the natural and uneven terrain of the hills against the backdrop of the Big Bear Mountains. Dragons, dogs and pets are welcome but please keep the man eaters on a leash. There will be merriment in the form of food and drink so plan on having plenty as the money raised supports scholarships and grants for students and teachers. Costumes are encouraged so don your best renaissance faire, Victorian or Steam Punk as you know the kids, and child at heart will love to dress the part.   Now all you need to do is plan your weekend around this great event.



The annual drinking festival is back!  Full of Oom-pah-pah, beer gardens, food and fun, the Big Bear Oktoberfest returns again.  Voted as #1 by Southern California’s the sing along, dance alongs and general silliness. craft fairs, kid costume contest and all around carousing is 7 weekends total, the last 3 in September and all 4 in October — September 14 through October 26.  This classic and annual event is so silly, homespun, yet authentic, it gives Big Bear one more thing they can call their very own.

Fraternities come up to Big Bear for Oktoberfest

Fraternities come up to Big Bear for Oktoberfestng,

Live entertainment is the highlight, and there will be a stage set up with bands playing every Saturday starting at 4:00 PM.  The stage is sponsored by a beer manufacturer, whose brews will be poured in the bier garten.  Last year and this, Shock Top flavors will be poured, and you can bet these craft brews have become So Cal favs.

Oktoberfest has long been a college tradition among fraternities and sororities  who plan 2 night weekend trips to the local mountains.  Running around in their crazy costumes… frat shirts and hats, singing and drinking from their bier steins, you can only imagine why being in the mountains is really their own “homecoming” celebration.  They make up their own drinking songs, get everyone involved and it’s wild how much fun they have, and the colleges bring a lot of entertainment whenever they come.   True entertainment… like me in lederhosen and buxom gals in well, buxom tops. You’ll see lots of “bier steins” and see some fun contests like the giant beer mug run and our German bands will be playing all day long. The kids can ride the bulls, play in the “kinder garten”, make crafts and dress up for the Halloween contest. And of course, there will be lots of dancing. The full deal on Oktoberfest in Big Bear is available from City Concierge.

The weekends in October seem to be the most popular, likely because school just started in September and by the time October rolls around, everyone is ready to let go a bit.  I’m hoping to get up there this year again too.  And if you see me, don’t forget my Wilkomen and Heidi Klum –  Auf Wiedersehen!

Big Bear Lake Annual Jazz Trax Summer Music Festival 2013

jazz trax 1                                    jazz-trax

The 8th annual Big Bear Lake JazzTrax Summer Music Festival returns June 21- 23, 2013.
The stars of smooth jazz return to the summertime Southern California Mountains.This is one special Jazz Festival at 6,000 feet on lake and a floating stage! The artists perform literally on the lake. The “smoothers” of smooth jazz arrive (that’s the audience!) from all over California for this event and convene on the Hotel Marina Resort Lakeside Lawn. This is a one of a kind music festival in Big Bear, and each year plays to near sold out crowds!

The backdrop to all this grandeur is the pristine alpine setting of Big Bear Lake are of course, the performers. Currently on the line up for summer 2013:

Legendary Producer/Keyboardist GEORGE DUKE
Legendary British Guitarist PETER WHITE
Mr. Groove Saxophonist EUGE GROOVE
Super Legendary BOOKER T JONES and his Hammond B-3 Organ
Booker T & the MG’s Rising Star Sensation NICHOLAS COLE
Chicago Guitarist NICK COLIONNE
Barbados Brewed Saxophonist ELAN TROUTMAN

And special performance Sunday Afternoon:

Unplugged Performance by Guitarist and Scatter Extraordinary STEVE OLIVER

The Big Bear Jazz Festival party goers can stay close to the festival grounds in one of the local Big Bear hotels, or stay in a real luxury rental cabin in Big Bear. Staying close is the key so you can walk into the festival, walk into the Village for restaurants and shops and coffee houses.

Special Lodging, Special Tickets
City Concierge and the JazzTrax producers have created  Big Bear special lodging packages for this event. Discounted all event tickets are available through City Concierge only when purchasing lodging through us. At this time you cannot buy the tickets separately. You must purchase your tickets and lodging together in order to have those discounts.
We’ve got two special prices:

Two day ticket Saturday and Sunday – Save $20.00
One Day Sunday only ticket – Save $10.00*

The Festival itself is on the Lakeside Lawn of the Marina Resort Hotel. After the final note each evening the musical after parties continue at Nottingham’s across the street at the Robin Hood Resort “Notti Girl Bar”.

How to get discount Jazz Trax tickets.
Select your exact seat or table or beach chair on-line without waiting for an operator by visit http://www.JazzTrax.com or by calling 866-Trax Tix, 866-872-9849. But do not pay for them yet. To get your discount, first, you need to call City Concierge to purchase lodging from us and then get your discount codes. So pick out your seats and then call us to book your lodging special and get your cheaper tickets.

Come elevate your smooth jazz this June at the Big Bear Lake JazzTrax Festival above the clouds in the Mountain Resort Village of Big Bear Lake in the summertime Southern California Mountains.
* Sunday only tickets are available without lodging, but you must call to get the discount code! 877-864-6444

Flexible Travel Days + Technology = Cheaper Family Mountain Resort Vacations


Family trips use to mean you only vacationed during the Flexible Travel Days. Yet the key to saving on California Flexible Travel Days is your family having a flexible travel schedule to avoid the holiday rush when everything is more expensive and crowded. Fortunately, this is now possible for you since most schools have Web sites, Facebook pages and teachers’ emails. This lets your kids stay on top of their school work with assignments from teachers, and notes and projects from fellow classmates, even when away on vacation. Technology also allows you to work remotely, if needed. So, your family can now travel during “off days” when it is cheaper to vacation with better deals and rates, with more lodging available.

Today, the tourism trend is for everyone to take their resort vacations during the same holidays. A smart vacation dollar saving choice for your family is to avoid these periods of higher demands and prices. Some of the more expensive times are the Christmas, New Years, Martin Luther King and Presidents Holidays. Also, there are usually three-to-four-day required lodging stays during these periods. So, be sure to plan your lodging reservation dates well in advance to beat these larger crowds and higher prices.

Some of the best times for you to think about booking mountain resort vacation rentals are just after the peak season has ended, or just before peak season begins. With your flexible family vacation schedule, certain holiday breaks and off-season times are in less demand and less expensive. Getaways during these periods will result in more affordable vacations, with more money left in your bank or available for your other family fun during the vacation. The winter holiday periods are Ski Week beginning the week after President’s Day Monday through Friday, and the Spring Break week. Spring Break and Easter often coincide. And many businesses let employees have extended time off for religious holidays because of cuts in the schedule or mandatory vacation times – maybe you can take advantage of this, too. For winter resorts, regular season ends just after Easter when prices on lodging plummet. And after the summer rush, anytime in September, after Labor Day, up till Thanksgiving is also not high season and rates will be remarkably less.

If your family can take advantage of flexible vacation schedules and days, you can benefit from some real savings on vacation rental homes and cabins. Many resorts are 50% empty during these off-season times so they will offer bargains to entice you to plan your trip for when everyone else isn’t. Coming before Christmas vacation is one way to get the best rates. Likewise, for New Years, many companies offer their employees extended time off, so coming after the holidays is another good option. This may be perfect for your family if you want to save, as rates at many resorts will drop after New Years, meaning a 20-40% savings.

Another great way for you to save on flexible vacations is by having your kids use technology so your family doesn’t become trapped by the school holiday schedule. Most vacation rentals have access to the Internet, and there is always the local Starbucks. If your children are not involved in sports, then you can comfortably take them out of school and let them use technology to stay up with the class while traveling as a family during non-prime-time season. Many classrooms create their own specific Facebook page where students can help each other by uploading and sharing homework notes and problem solving. They can also use Skype and Facebook Instant Messaging features to communicate their “status” individually and as a group so that they build a community around the page. This is clearly beneficial for your kids “grabbing the notes” and working on joint projects when they go on vacation.

Additionally, parents can work remotely on their job projects through the Internet and conference calling if needed. You can use “Go To My PC”, a program that allows you to connect to your own home PC, or “Go To My Office” (same company business edition) and connect to your business computer. These kinds of telecommuting tools used on your own traveling laptop let you do everything you would if you were in the office. This flexibility allows for a vacation schedule that will save you a bundle.

For example, at many of the bigger ski resorts, a lift ticket can go as low as $65 for an adult during these times, which is a huge savings off the regular $94 or $100 lift tickets during holiday times. And even better savings come from taking advantage of mid-week deals and rates, any days Sunday through Friday. The key here to saving on lodging is to avoid staying Saturday night.

With the many technology choices available for both your students, as well as you, the parents, the freedom of a flexible family vacation schedule is a real possibility. Planning your trip to maximize the value of vacation dollars and minimize the limitations of travel periods is simply smart math. These kinds of calculations equal more family vacation savings, better choices and fewer crowds. The numbers are in your favor.

Don’t Get Scammed On Your Next Resort Vacation

big bear cabin

The simple and convenient use of national online vacation rental web sites is on the rise and has become the new norm for many people planning a trip.  But they are not all the same.  Vacation lodging is being reserved through computers and smart phones, on commuter rails and lunch breaks, and while watching the kid’s soccer game. Unfortunately, vacation-rental-scams are also on the rise. Sadly, the scams are proliferating and horror stories are surfacing from consumers who were unaware. The last thing anyone wants to worry about is being scammed on vacation.

As of 2017, the leading travel websites such as Expedia, Homeaway, VRBO, Travelocity, Trip Advisor and any like that, charge an additional service fee to use their site.  This is in addition to any fees they may be charging in the form of “commissions” to the property managers who list their properties.  Yes, VRBO used to mean “Vacation Rental By Owner” but not any more.  They are now large companies, who raise their prices in order to get the free listings offered.   As more and more vacationers are choosing the ease and comfort of staying in a vacation rental home rather than in a hotel when they travel to a resort the way to combat this is to go local.  The local agencies don’t need to charge the extra fees since they are the supplier so you can save on your vacations.

The advantages to vacation home and cabin rentals over individual hotel rooms are many, with the larger space, improved privacy and shared living areas making this choice preferred by numerous travelers. However, booking these homes online through a private party can be risky for the renter. So yes, using a property manager instead of a private party is better, and going local is the way to do it.

According to an August 2010 leading travel industry article by Tnooz, “Industry studies show that the overwhelming majority of travelers (up to 80%) select their accommodation through the Internet, and over 50% end up booking online.”

Most vacation rental Web sites are trustworthy. As one California resort reservation booking company pointed out, “working with a local and professional vacation rental Web-based business helps avoid the rip-off and the enticing to-good-to-be-true advertisements that are found on Craigslist, Backpages.com, large national sites, or other Web sites where fraudulent perpetrators lie.”

So how can the public tell the good guys from the bad guys? Not all rental scams are that obvious. Here are several important characteristics to look for when deciding on which online vacation rental business to use and choosing the right property:

  • Is the vacation rental Web site locally or regionally based? Real businesses have real local or regional addresses. Google their address. The vacation property itself should have an address for Google Maps verification. If it doesn’t ask a telephone agent for it. Then Google it.
  • Does this business have a YELP listing?  Remember, if they sell rentals on a site (like Trip Advisor does) then how creditable can the reviews be?
  • Does the Web site business have a working phone number? Call them and talk to them, or notice how soon they return any messages left. Real businesses have real professional and knowledgeable employees who provide quality information.
  • They also should use a consistent email address in their correspondence. The email address should be the same as the domain name, not a “free” email box from Yahoo, MSN, AOL or Gmail.
  •  Real businesses have their name the same as their Web site address (the URL). When they have good, original content on their site, such as “local activities to do”, this helps to prove their credibility.
  • When was the business started? Do they have a trademark and a business license? If they don’t provide this, do not do business with them. This is public information; you can find it easily with a search.
  • Are the photos of the vacation rentals really theirs? If the photo has a watermark on it that is NOT the same as their URL, these guys might be bogus. Fake sites steal photos from legitimate Web sites.
  • What is their payment system? Credit cards are the absolutely safest way to go.   If they want, cash, wire transfers, money orders or a personal check written to their first name, run the other way.
  • 24-hour service is important. Does this company/person have a local representative that is within an hour of any service call? What happens if the heat goes out in a snow storm? Often when renting direct with an owner there is no 24/7 service which is how they compete to keep the price down. Why ruin your vacation?

Any online business is potentially susceptible to being a fraud when money and “products” are exchanged through a virtual format. Dealing with a fraudulent vacation rental “business” is like going to a car dealer that sells you a lemon – it looks really good at the dealer but turns into a nightmare on the road.  A “buyer” should use the same smart due diligence with an online vacation rental Web site. This way they will get what they paid for and be spared a vacation disaster. Remember, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.