Sweater weather and hot air balloon skies- Switzerland’s most beautiful winter festival.
There is no doubt that when one mentions Switzerland as a touristic hotspot, nobody can go without imagining the infinite crystal lakes, skiing down the Alps and drowning in never-ending cheese and Lindt chocolate. Nonetheless, we have prepared an interesting piece about a unique touristic attraction many haven’t heard about, and believe us when we say, there is no better feeling than flying up high and having the whole nation and its wonders appear below you.
The International Hot-Air Balloon Festival in Château-d’Oex is one of its kind, as ever since 1979, it takes place every year at the end of January. It is attended by nearly a hundred balloons from twenty different countries, as the visitors take advantage of the exceptional climate of the Alps in the winter. Usually, it takes place at a snowy valley in Switzerland’s famous ski village during the evening of the seventh day, also known as the “Night Glow” show. Throughout that night, the sky is illuminated with fireworks, glowing balloons and light shows of blue, red, green and yellow showings. Visitors are also welcome to buy available packages for balloon rides, and even a bottle of champagne in exclusive VIP lounges. The colorful, adrenaline-rush week in Switzerland attracts crowds of people as every hot air balloon is customized in special shapes, air displays, and models. Wednesday afternoon is always dedicated to children as food, animations, and captive balloon flights surely light up the joy and excitement in the young faces!
Now, let us go back in time a bit, what brought the balloons to Europe’s natural capital? The link between Château-d’Oex and hot air balloons is a historical one. It was from here, on March 1st, 1999 that two hot air balloon pilots Bertrand Piccard of Switzerland and Brian Jones of Great Britain took off on a historic, non-stop, 20-day flight during which they circumvented the globe in just 15 days. By the time they landed on the 21st of March, they had set a total of seven new world records, including distance, duration and altitude across all balloon types and sizes.
“Imagine a picture of high-end air balloon pilots, professional alpine skiers and snowboarders accompanied by all the other visitors, in a night of infinite dancing and cocktails, as the moonlight is guiding them to the next day of their luxury holiday”
On completing the flight, Jones told the jubilant, Geneva-based mission control team: “The first thing I’ll do is phone my wife, and then, like the good Englishman I am, I’ll have a cup of tea.” Today, the village honors them with the annual festival, celebrating the intelligence and courage of the two brave men.
Switzerland is well-known for its ultimate European après ski lifestyle, where once the evening comes, the nightclubs on the slopes, as well as ski bars and open-air lounges don’t stop the party until sunrise. Now imagine a picture of high-end air balloon pilots, professional alpine skiers and snowboarders accompanied by all the other visitors, in a night of infinite dancing and cocktails, as the moonlight is guiding them to the next day of their luxury holiday. An iconic image isn’t it? Château-d’Oex is positioned at the base of the Vaud Alps, and as expected, it is surrounded by luxury hotels and Michelin rated restaurants. The roughly 44 square miles of land that make up the exemplary place offer a variety of other sights, such as cattle grazing along the mountains, Swiss natural wonders such as lakes and rivers as well as the ski lifts for the adrenaline seekers. In the spring and summer, visitors can witness the blooming wildflowers and young trees covering the snowless mountainsides.
“It was from here, on March 1st, 1999 that two hot air balloon pilots Bertrand Piccard of Switzerland and Brian Jones of Great Britain took off on a historic, non-stop, 20-day flight during which they circumvented the globe in just 15 days”
This festival remains one of the most beautiful in the region as snow-covered mountain peaks aligned in the morning sky, with over 80 colorful hot air balloons is all of which can be seen on the horizon. Travelers stare up in awe, as the frosty breeze tints their faces a rosy shade of pink.
What a surreal sight it is to see the balloons flying out in the distance and the flames firing up inside them. Nothing better than feeling a sense of weightlessness as the adrenaline junkies climb higher into the sky in their air homes.