Next weekend, January 25-26, marks the kick-off of the 36th Festival International de Ballons in Château-d’Oex, Canton Vaud, a town nestled in the mountains near Gruyères. The festival runs through February 2.

Over the course of nine days, spectators can enjoy paragliding displays, the inflation and take-off of special shape balloons, passenger flights, concerts, hang gliding, and more. Especially for kids! On Wednesday, January 29, Children’s Afternoon at the festival begins at 13:30. The afternoon features shows and activities for kids, including tether rides (weather permitting) and a group balloon release. The child’s balloon that travels the farthest “wins”; last year’s winning balloon flew 448 kilometers to Cordovado, Italy!

Photo credit: Festivaldeballons.ch

Photo credit: Festivaldeballons.ch

Last year, my family made a day of it in Château-d’Oex on the first Sunday of the festival. We could see some of the special shape balloons in the air as we drove into town and saw a few taking off as we entered the festival grounds. The wind picked up shortly after we arrived and all balloons were grounded, but the rest of the day was still a lot of fun. Several special shape balloons remained inflated for the spectators, and the wingsuit demonstration continued as we enjoyed a lunch of sausages and cheese and mulled wine.

Special shape balloons at the 2013 festival

Special shape balloons at the 2013 festival

Wingsuit demonstration from the 2013 festival

Wingsuit demonstration from the 2013 festival

Tickets and Entry Fees: Admission to the festival is charged on Saturdays and Sundays, but not Monday through Friday. Entry fees on weekends are CHF 15 per adult; children age 14 and younger are free. If you plan to attend more than one weekend day, you can purchase the official pin for CHF 20 that covers admission for the entire festival.

Getting There: Château-d’Oex is accessible by car, train, and by airplane. More information about access and transportation is available by clicking here. You can download a map of the festival, including the location of parking areas, here. If you drive to Château-d’Oex, there will be plenty of signs and parking attendants as you arrive in town to direct you.

Tip: All balloon flights are weather permitting. Be sure to check weather conditions before setting out!

For more information, check out the homepage for the festival, http://www.festivaldeballons.ch/en/index

We are a group of international women living in Geneva, Switzerland.  If you would like to join the AIWC, please visit our website at http://www.aiwcgeneva.org/.

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