Festival International de Ballons, Château-d’Oex, Switzerland

Photography By Christophe Dayer, Flickr

For the last 36 years, Château-d’Oex, located in the Lake Geneva region of Switzerland, has been home to the Festival International de Ballons (International Balloon Festival), which will take place Jan. 25 to Feb. 2 this year. 

A fun and affordable event for all ages, this year’s football-themed festival, chosen for the impending World Cup in Brazil, is expected to attract 40,000 to 50,000 attendees. Entry fees — charged on Saturdays and Sundays only — cost CHF (Swiss Franc) 15 for adults, which equals approximately $17, and is free for children under the age of 14. If you plan on attending the festival more than one day, a pin can be purchased for CHF 20 ($22).

Hot air balloons varying in size, shape and color will be on display, and spectators can experience a variety of activities including air shows with hot air balloons, F1s and hang gliders, hot air balloon competitions, and even take flight on a tether ride or, a much pricier option, their very own passenger flight.

The festival will see 45-minute passenger flights soar above the Pays d’Enhaut Valley, providing passengers with a 360-degree view of the idyllic beauty of Switzerland’s Alpine landscape below. Priced at CHF 350 ($390) for adults and CHF 175 ($195) for children, per person, it’s a picture-perfect experience you won’t forget. (Note: Booking information varies, and weather conditions permitting. Visit the festival website for additional information.)

Wednesday afternoons, dedicated to children, are filled with additional family-friendly activities and entertainment.

Twinning, an annual tradition that takes place the first Sunday of the festival, is a must-see occasion that symbolizes the friendships that have been established among the European regions of Bristol (UK), Sint-Niklaas (Belgium), Romorantin (Loire, France) and Château-d’Oex, and the economic advantages that have resulted.  

Accessible by plane, train and car, the beautiful landscape views of Château-d’Oex will greet festival-goers. For travelers interested in experiencing a few more days in the area, Château-d’Oex is a resort area chock-full of seasonal resorts, charming bed-and-breakfasts, restaurants and shops.

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