Full of Hot Air: Great Ballooning Adventures

Switzerland: Chateau-d'Oex Balloon Festival
  |  Gorp.com

Imagine 50 balloons rising simultaneously from the glistening snow of the Swiss Alps, soaring above valleys and 10,000-foot peaks. This spectacle takes place every January at the Château D'Oex Winter Alpine Balloon Festival in Gstaad, Switzerland, an event that draws balloonists from more than fifteen countries.

The festival lasts 10 days, with special events including a dirigible demonstration, mountain hang glider flying, and long-distance flights over the Alps (weather permitting). You can visit the event as a spectator, or—if you want to fly—join the Bombard Society's 9-day ballooning holiday linked to the festivities. Flights are made every day, with mass ascensions held five times during the festival. Bombard customers stay in deluxe hotels, and dine at the finest restaurants in the region.

The Bombard Society has participated in the festival for six years running, and its giant 180,000-cubic-foot tulip balloons have become a familiar sight over the Alps. If money is no object, stay the full 9 days for $11,471 per person, double occupancy; single supplement is $900. When you're not flying, you can ski at nearby resorts. If the price of a car seems a bit much for a week and a half's vacation, The Bombard Society also offers a 6-day, 5-night program in the Gstaad region for $7,828 per person, double occupancy; an single supplement is $590. You will fly over the same region, but not in conjunction with the festival.
The Chateau d'Oex Festival is truly one of the most exclusive events in the world. If you want to try winter ballooning at its best, contact The Bombard Society (855 Donald Ross Road, Juno Beach, FL 33408, 1.800.862.8537, or 407.775.0039; Fax: 407.775.7008. Contact the Swiss National Tourist Office, 608 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10020, 212.757.5944 for general tourism information.

Paul McMenamin is the author, editor, and photo director of the original Ultimate Adventure Sourcebook.

Published: 5 Jun 2001 | Last Updated: 14 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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