Competing balloon pilots, enthusiastic spectators and eager passengers woke up to yet another day of radiant sunshine albeit a bit chilly at first at about 21° F, but then it warmed up to toasty 25° F. But with the bright sunshine and dry air, the conditions are perfect for a bit of glühwein (hot spiced wine) or some Swiss wine. Add to that a plate of Swiss sausages and some rösti (hashbrown-like potatoes) to enjoy while sitting on a sunny terrace outside with colorful hot air balloons overhead and your life is complete.
“Twinning”. Image courtesy of Dôminique Schreckling
The adrenaline-driven pilots, para-gliders and the bat-winged base jumpers were thrilling the spectators again today with a variety of air shows. Another magnificent day and evening at the 33rd International Hot Air Balloon Festival in Château d’Oex.
Don’t you want to be here? Image near Château d’Oex courtesy of Fabrice Wagner
But something is different today. There is a strong sense of anticipation with volunteers and balloonists bustling about preparing for THE event of the festival tonight: the Night Glow. In fact there are more than 300 impassioned participants producing the most memorable evening one could ever hope to have in the Swiss Alps. The organization of this magical evening that has been taking place for 15 years requires at one year of preparation and a wish and a prayer that Mother Nature will cooperate.
Night Glow at Château d’Oex. Image by Fabrice Wagner
Local people from all over Switzerland come for this event and Château d’Oex will be electric with fresh vigor coming in from those who worked all week in the cities who are now ready to celebrate! The theme for this year at the Night Glow is “Do ré mi fa sol, la Suisse s’envol”. This is not an easy one to translate but I’ll do my best. How about “Do ré mi fa sol, la, Switzerland Flies”? Is that along the line of “Switzerland Rocks!”? I recommend staying with the French version; it’s more lyrical.
Magical Lanterns at the Night Glow, Château d’Oex. Image courtesy of Fabrice Wagner
The “prologue” will start this magnificent evening at 6:45 PM precisely, with a brief word from a respected Swiss dignitary and then the Night Glow begins which is coordinated with the sound and light show. All participating balloonist have their aircraft fully inflated but tethered to the ground in the launch area which creates an effect of a 100 giant Chinese lanterns or huge brilliantly colored light bulbs going off and on. But that’s not all; Swiss ski school instructors as well as torch-bearing paragliders will be entertaining the crowds with their amazing specially choreographed performance to music and explosions of awe-striking fireworks. Watch this and imagine that you are seeing al this set against the background of the alpine valley and Swiss Alps of the Pays-d’Enhaut.
Then the Friday fête begins at Château d’Oex at 7:30 PM precisely. The village becomes an animated Swiss street fair with local gastronomic stands offering Swiss goodies and all types of beverages, Swiss music, local costumes and local folk entertainment for all! Just remember if you have a hot air balloon ride reserved for the next day, boarding starts at 8:45 AM precisely.
For more on the weekend at the International Hot Air Balloon Festival at Château d’Oex and other Swiss activities, visit Nileguide Lausanne and follow me on Twitter
Image of “Twinning” is courtesy of Fabrice Wagner