Magnificent sunny skies welcomed today’s balloon pilots of the 33rd International Hot Air Balloon Festival in Château d’Oex, Switzerland. They all took off this morning for the competitions in invigorating temperatures of 25° F (a high of 29° F), but no glacial winds like last week. To experience this exhilarating activity, take a flight here with a previous Hot Air Balloon Festival in Château d’Oex. All day today, there was not a cloud in the exquisitely blue sky which was dotted with colorful dirigibles of all sorts and hot air balloons of all sizes.
Up, up and away for another day! Image courtesy of Dominique Schreckling
Mother Nature has been generous this week as chances are that there may be at least one day where one has to find alternative activities to amuse oneself in Château d’Oex until the skies are clear. But the forecast looks excellent for the rest of the festival.
Fill ‘er up! Image courtesy of Dominique Schreckling
In addition to Swiss chalet or Swiss wine bar hopping (we call those cafés) and participating in the many land-based activities organized by the Balloon Festival volunteers, this enchanting alpine village can
offer you the butcher, the baker, and the… (well you know, and those Vaudoise delicacies are just waiting for you to taste. Furthermore, the variety of locally produced gastronomic products is prolific and one must really plan to stay during the entire 9 day festival to take in all in (literally).
If you’ve had enough hot air for the moment, visit some of Château d’Oex’s museums some of which have very original exhibitions just for the International Hot Air Balloon Festival and for visitors who want to immerse themselves in regional Swiss culture. One very special place is the Musée du Vieux Pays-d’Enhaut (The Museum of the Old Pays-d’Enhaut,). The museum has been here for 80 years collecting pieces from the local population. This Swiss region was isolated for a long period of history. The people here were self-sufficient in the old days when the only way out was by sled or carriage and horses. But they left behind their fascinating articles displaying real talent for craftsmanship in all types of woodworking, carved and painted furniture, stained glass, decorated tools, antique arms, cow bells, 19th century skis and much more as the collection grows.
Musée du Vieux Pays-d’Enhaut in Château d’Oex. Image courtesy of the Museum
Some of the rooms are arranged as they would have been during certain periods, so be sure to visit all of them. Feel the ambiance of the farmers and artisans of those ancient times by viewing an old workshop with an antique iron forge, cheese making equipment and a bread baking oven dating from 1665. There is a dining room with a kitchen contain old pots and a bricelet (waffle) iron from 1581.
Art lovers will appreciate the numerous drawing, engravings and water color paintings of the region as well as antique photographs documenting the arrival of tourism! A traditional specialty of the region is paper découpages and there is an exceptional collection in the museum featuring local celebrated artists Hans Jakob Hauswirth (1809-1871) and Louis Saugy (1871-1953).
Hans Jakob Hauswirth 18th century decoupage. Image courtesy of Musée du Vieux Pays-d’Enhaut
Another festival MUST is found at the Hôtel de Ville (Town Hall) in the Château d’Oex’s salle du Conseil Communal located on the 3rd floor. Here you will find a free exhibition of the International Hot Air Balloon Festival stamped envelopes from years past as well as from this year.
International Hot Air Balloon Festival Stamp Collections by the Club Philatélique du Pays-d’Enhaut.
Every year (for the last 33!) the Club Philatélique du Pays-d’Enhaut and the Balloon Festival organizers create and publish special edition stamps for the festival. They are designed with the Pro Juventute insignia (Swiss charitable organization which cares for the young in Switzerland) and are put on special envelopes. This mail is then carried by hot air balloon to the nearest post office to be postmarked. You can purchase these postmarked stamps (a portion of the proceeds goes to Pro Juventute) in the Hôtel de Ville or the Espace Ballon reception desk.
The ideal place to learn more about the hot air balloons is at the Musée l’Espace Ballon which takes you on a journey through the adventurous history of hot air ballooning and other aerial feats as well as and techniques and the science behind it. There is an interactive and educational exhibition with 3D films, real hot air balloons for the young and less young. This is a permanent museum but the exhibitions change each year. Find out all about hot air ballooning before you go up…..or after you come down.
Espace Ballon Museum. Image courtesy of the Hot Air Balloon Museum
For more about the Château-d’0ex International Balloon Festival and Switzerland, keep visiting Nileguide.com and follow me on Twitter.