The Château-d’Oex International Balloon Festival is one of the most unforgettable spectacles in the Swiss Alps. Every year in late January hundreds of colorful balloons ascend from the town of Château-d’Oex and rise into the cold mountain air. And they have been doing this non-stop for over 40 years! (Except for during corona of course).
One of the most unique things about this event is that it is held in winter. So, the magic of the balloons floating above you in the sky is amplified by the white background of the Swiss mountains all around you.
The balloon festival itself is a mixture of demonstration flights, competitions, and attractions giving you a lot of things to do and see. There is entertainment for the kids including treasure hunts, crafts and other fun activities depending on the year.
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Our Visit To The Balloon Festival
We spent the day in Château-d’Oex at the festival just walking around and admiring the ballons from various places. For us, this was more than enough to keep us busy, especially since we were there with friends with small children.
You can get up close and personal with the balloons in the pilot’s area. See them inflate and depart. Which is something to see in itself.
You can also watch the hot air balloons from afar, as they are always roaming around the sky throughout the valley. There are so many different shapes and sizes, colors, and crazy balloon inventions. It is a sight to see for sure.
You can also book a balloon ride at the festival if you wish. They are certainly not cheap, and you will want to book ahead as it is very popular. It takes around 3 hours in total, with the flight time being around 1 hour. They bring you back to the take-off area by bus.
You will get some epic views during the flight, possibly seeing the Matterhorn, Jungfrau, and maybe even Mont Blanc if the weather is clear enough.
The current prices at the time of writing are:
During the weekend:
- Adult (from 16 years old) – CHF 390
- Child (minimum 1.25m) – CHF 210
During the week (cheaper option):
- Adult (from 16 years old) – CHF 330
- Child (minimum 1.25m) – CHF 180
- Private flight – CHF 1’600
When is the International Balloon Festival?
The International hot air balloon festival will take place between the 21st and the 29th of January 2023 in Chateaux d’Oex in Switzerland.
Where is the Festival International de Ballons event?
The International Balloon Festival is held in Chateaux d’Oex in Switzerland. It is near the eastern end of Lake Geneva, in the alps above Montreux.
How do I reach Chateaux d’Oex?
You can find your way to Chateaux d’Oex by public transport or by car.
If you are taking the train and bus it is:
- 2 hours 41 minutes from Geneva
- 57 minutes from Montreux
- 3 hours 27 minutes from Zurich
If you are coming by car, then you can use Google Maps to navigate there. It takes approximately:
- 1 hour 50 minutes from Geneva
- 1 hour 19 minutes from Montreux
- 2 hours 25 minutes from Zurich
The parking situation changes depending on the festival set up for the year, but there will definitely be dedicated parking areas signed and manned during the festival. We were directed to a parking spot by attendants as we drove into the town. There is not a lot of parking, so they often put you along the streets themselves. Just be aware that you should come as early as possible to get a spot in town.
In terms of parking inside the town of Chateaux d’Oex itself, here are some options:
- Limited parking at the train station
- Limited parking next to the bank
- Try the Coop supermarket, but it might be time-limited (check the signs)
When is the best day to attend the Balloon Festival?
The best day to go to the International hot air balloon festival is perhaps the day of the NightGlow, a spectacular light and sound show. Otherwise, it is busier on weekends, so weekdays are a great option. Or, you can check the schedule for the event that most suits you.
How many days should I attend the Festival International de Ballons?
How long you should spend at the Balloon Festival depends on what you are planning on doing there. You need at least one day to see the various balloons, visit the pilots’ area and perhaps a second day if you want to go on a balloon ride.