CHATEAU D’OEX, SWITZERLAND (JANUARY 21, 2017) (REUTERS) – The Annual hot air balloon festival kicks off on Saturday (January 21) in the Swiss city of Chateau d’Oex for its 39th edition, bringing together more than 70 pilots from 15 different countries.
“We have a beautiful landscape with snow and sun, and we can say that every year, we paint an ephemeral fresco in the sky thanks to these balloons and I think this is one of the things that make the festival works”, the President of the organizing Committee of the International Balloon Festival, Frederic Delachaux told Reuters.
Between 20,000 and 40,000 people are expected to attend over two weekends, according to the organizers.
“Well Chateaux d’Oex is now on its 39th year, it is very very famous for ballooning. So it’s the number one place to come to in the winter. You know, what better way of spending the week of flying in the snow, in the mountains, it’s absolutely stunning”, said a pilot from United Kingdom, Lee Hooper, who will fly in Switzerland for the 7th time.
The festival was created in 1979 and features hot air balloons in special shapes, air displays, a night show and other activities for families.
Chateau d’Oex and hot air balloons have been connected for many years. In 1999, Bertrand Piccard and Brian Jones left the Swiss town with the Breitling Orbiter to do the first tour of the world in a hot air balloon.
“Well, balloon is something very fascinating because you just go with the wind. You can steer it, but you can steer it when you change the altitude, you can go to other wind’s directions and so you can a little bit steer the balloon and it’s a very interesting thing. Like soaring, they just go with the wind”, Gerard, a Swiss pilot from Bale said.