Winter Alpine Balloon Festival – Château d’Oex, Vaud, Switzerland

A Bird’s Eye View of Mountain Majesty

Hot-air balloon festivals are no longer a conversation-stopping novelty, but ballooning through the Alps in the middle of winter? At the annual Winter Alpine Balloon Festival, as many as sixty-five balloons from more than fifteen countries ascend gracefully as a carnival ambience takes over the popular resort town below, with organized dinners held each evening. If you miss the festival, alterna­tive weeks offer wintertime flying that is no less awesome, among majestic peaks and through snow-covered alpine valleys.

Elegant in-flight luncheons are served while pas­sengers drift serenely over Christmas-card settings.

Summertime ballooning in Switzerland takes place in the softer rolling hills of the Emmental valley, in the otherwise dramatic Bernese Oberland.

The precise geometric pat­terns of Swiss farmland and picture-perfect, flower-decked rural wooden chalets create the perfect “aerial nature walk,” according to Buddy Bombard, who leads one of the world’s most reliable ballooning outfitters.

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