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Cutting the ties

Explore Switzerland // Jan. 5, 2017

It’s up, up and away at Château-d’Oex in January, as this quiet mountain resort above Montreux climbs into the basket for its spectacular annual celebration of ballooning – the 2017 International Hot Balloon Festival.

Dominique Schreckling Cutting the ties

With hundreds of huge balloons from across the world expected to descend from January 21 to 29, look forward to a pop of colour against a breath-taking snowy mountainscape – with the gentle blast of burners as your soundtrack. There’s also a night-time show, balloon rides and a special kids’ day. Château d’Oex launched the festival in 1979, making this small resort in the Alps Vaudois the ballooning capital of Europe. But there’s one question that seems to hang in the air like a giant montgolfière. How did such a small village become a big hitter on the international ballooning circuit? It’s linked to thermals and tradition – all of which is explained at the Espace Ballon museum, next to the take off area.

Note: Solar Impulse pilot and director Bertrand Piccard launched his record-breaking Breitling Orbiter trip from Château d’Oex in 1999. The Lausanne-based explorer and psychiatrist co-piloted the bright red balloon (with UK balloonist Brian Jones) non-stop around the world in less than 20 days. See the Breitling capsule at the museum.

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