The Festival International De Ballons, or the International Festival of Balloons, is one of the most anticipated winter events in Switzerland; famous around the world too! In the little municipality of Château-d'Œx, a hot air balloon festival has been held since its inception in 1979 - when the first international hot air balloon week was held.
Since then, 43 editions have come and gone and 2024 marks the 44th edition! The festival, in whole, lasts for 9 days with different programs lined up - from Hot Air Balloon Championships to Passenger Flights for all those who visit - it has the whole shebang. You’ll have front row seats to the most amazing spectacle - scores of colorful balloons taking flight, set against a stunning backdrop of the Swiss Alps. Trust us, it really doesn’t get prettier than this!
📅 Dates: Jan 20th - 28th, 2024
🕣 Timings: 8:30 AM every morning
📍 Where:Place du Village 6 CH - 1660 Château-d'Œx
🎟️ Tickets: Click here!
Events lined up this year!
- Watch the preparation, inflation and flight of balloons : Visitors can get a first-hand look at how the balloons get going, right from the first step - inflation, to when it takes off! You also get to interact with the pilots who take part in the various competitions.
- Passenger Flights: The main agenda is to get a chance to fly up in the balloons themselves! The Passenger Flights, in this case, either a Hot Air Balloon or a Helicopter too, will take you on a 40-minute journey, right up in the sky, for a surreal and scenic experience. You can get tickets over here!
- Philatelic Exhibition: Hold up, this is a cool exhibition! The Pays-d’Enhaut philatelic club will transport letters in a hot air balloon and all the letters from the previous 43 exhibitions as well! Once the balloon lands, the letters, postcards and other things are taken to the local Swiss Post Office where you can get them!
- Air Shows: The Air Shows that will be put together is something you cannot miss! Catch acrobatic planes and paragliders just doing their thing with spectacular air stunts!
- Evening at the Eden Cinema: A concert “The Montagnard Choir” at 8:00 PM and live screening of “Beyond tradition: the power of natural singing” at 8:45 PM will be held at the Eden Cinema back to back, for a cozy night in.
- Flying Night: Fancy a black-tie evening? The Festival will host a Ball Evening on the theme “Men in Black, the Return” at the Great Hall of Château-d'Œx!
- Activities for Children: There are plenty of activities for children at the festival! Parents don’t need to worry about how they can keep their kids entertained. Here are a bunch of activities you can expect as per this year’s schedule -
-Treasure Hunt in the village
Virtual Reality simulation
Things to do in and around Château-d'Oex
- Visit Rougemont, a traditional village : Get a glimpse of the slow life at the Rougemont Village, known for practicing mountain craft and farming. The quality of life has stood the test of time since the 11th century when the Rougemont Church was built.
- Engage in Skijoring : Skijoring is a 4000-year-old tradition where you hold on to a lead and let a horse pull you! It’s truly skiing with a twist!
- Visit the Chillon Castle in Montreux : Head down to the Chillon Castle for a tour inside and get a taste of the medieval era was like in this region. There’s a lot to see and explore here!
Must-visit restaurants neaby
What’s the point of visiting the Swiss Alps without trying traditional Swiss cuisine? That’s why you need to head to the Le Chalet restaurant to relish authentic and regional Swiss delicacies. You must try highly recommended dishes like fondue, raclette, chalet soup and cottage macaroni.
To accommodate dietary options, the restaurant is vegetarian-friendly too!
More about the Night Glow Show
The iconic Sound and Light Show called Night Glow Display - which has been showcased in almost every edition of the Festival International De Ballons will not be up this year as well, sadly!
But, don’t be too disheartened! They have promised to bring this spectacular display back for the public in the foreseeable future editions, fingers crossed!
How to get there?
- By Train:
- If you’re travelling from another country, you will have to take an international train to one of the major 3 Swiss cities - Zurich, Bern or Geneva.
- Then catch a train to Montreux or Zweisimmen railway station, which are the closest stations to Château-d'Œx. From there, a local train will take you to Château-d'Œx.
- By Car: If you’re heading from Geneva or Zurich via car, take the A1 or A3 highway towards Bern. From thereon, you must make your way from Lausanne and then to Montreux. Since Montreux is just north of Château-d'Œx, you can follow the local signs to reach the destination!
Where to stay?