Travel

January 27, 2015

Opening Weekend of the 37th International Balloon Festival of Château-d’Oex

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Preparing the balloon
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S

ince 1979 the small village of Château-d’Oex in the beautiful Swiss alpine valley of the Pays-d’Enhaut has been holding the International Balloon Festival. Lasting nine consecutive days, it is amongst the longest balloon festivals in the world. Each year, over 80 balloons are participating in the event and in the different competitions that challenge the expert balloon pilots’ skills. For the public there are the opportunities to take balloon rides as well as view and photograph some of the most spectacular scenery in the Swiss countryside.

Click to enlarge

The opening weekend of the 37th edition of the International Balloon Festival of Château-d’Oex, from the 24th of January to the 1st of February 2015, closed on a beautiful sunny day. The two first days attracted over 5’000 visitors despite less than ideal weather conditions.

Saturday morning, the opening day, started with rather grey weather. The lack of wind combined with the low cloud cover made balloon rides almost impossible as they have little chance to travel away from the takeoff zone once in the air. I was nevertheless lucky to get one of the rare balloon rides in the morning. At first, I was a bit disappointed with the lack of sunshine in such a picturesque landscape, but despite modest weather conditions, I was rewarded by a truly magical balloon ride over the village of Château-d’Oex. The lack of sunshine turned the usual winter fairytale landscape into almost mystical scenery with snow covered forests and mountain tops disappearing into the clouds. The roads and the river served as the only contrasts in a snow covered landscape. The balloon ride ended with an impressive flight just above the tree tops along the river at the bottom of the valley and a perfectly smooth landing.

Dimitri’s first flight
Click to enlarge

By midday, the sun started to come through the clouds and a slight breeze marked the true start of the balloon festival. Almost 90 balloon rides were taken. The highlight of the day was undoubtedly a new special shaped balloon named Dimitri which was flying for the very first time. This balloon will most certainly become a favorite for many children in all the balloon festivals in which it will appear.

Despite postcard weather on Sunday in pristine snow from the previous night, all flights had to be cancelled because of strong winds on ground level rendering the balloon preparation impossible to perform.

The festival continues until February 1st.

  • 37ème Festival International de Ballons de Château-d'Oex

    37ème Festival International de Ballons de Château-d'Oex
    16355285221_e14ee35c97_o

  • 37ème Festival International de Ballons de Château-d'Oex

    37ème Festival International de Ballons de Château-d'Oex
    16356154422_34b065d260_o

  • 37ème Festival International de Ballons de Château-d'Oex

    37ème Festival International de Ballons de Château-d'Oex
    16355283911_fcae008302_o

  • 37ème Festival International de Ballons de Château-d'Oex

    37ème Festival International de Ballons de Château-d'Oex
    16169685520_07b8df7184_o

  • 37ème Festival International de Ballons de Château-d'Oex

    37ème Festival International de Ballons de Château-d'Oex
    15737076033_f35e30ffe8_o

  • Dimitri

    Dimitri
    37ème Festival International de Ballons de Château-d'Oex

  • 37ème Festival International de Ballons de Château-d'Oex

    37ème Festival International de Ballons de Château-d'Oex
    16356149262_00923a261e_o

  • 37ème Festival International de Ballons de Château-d'Oex

    37ème Festival International de Ballons de Château-d'Oex
    16356147522_0141c819d6_o

  • 37ème Festival International de Ballons de Château-d'Oex

    37ème Festival International de Ballons de Château-d'Oex
    16171151987_fcc82e151a_o

  • Dimitri

    Dimitri
    37ème Festival International de Ballons de Château-d'Oex

  • LadyJocker

    LadyJocker
    37ème Festival International de Ballons de Château-d'Oex

  • Yellow Jacket

    Yellow Jacket
    37ème Festival International de Ballons de Château-d'Oex

  • 37ème Festival International de Ballons de Château-d'Oex

    37ème Festival International de Ballons de Château-d'Oex
    16177098750_77b7b10c99_o

These and more photos of the 37th edition are under www.bydoms.com


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About the Author

Dominique Schreckling
Dominique Schreckling
IPA Staff ID: 06617 • I live in the french speaking part of Switzerland, near Lake Geneva. I am a freelance photojournalist focusing mainly on events photography (music festivals, sports events and trade shows) and travel photography. An overview of my photographic work over the last few years can be seen under www.bydoms.com.




 
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