Annually, Chateau-d’Oex is the place to be if you want to be surrounded by stunning white snow topped mountains, a small Swiss village and more than 50 hot air balloons of all shapes and sizes. For our personal visit, we visited in a full day trip from Montreux and had some fantastic clear sunny weather. Not only can you view the balloons and events, you can also have a hot air balloon flight or helicopter flight yourself! Read on to see some information and our experience from the festival.
About The Chateau-d’Oex Hot Air Balloon Festival
The Chateau-d’Oex hot air balloon festival started in 1979 and attracts over 25,000 visitors to the area. These days, the festival hosts around 60 balloons which also means 60 pilots!
There is a long-standing connection between Chateau-d’Oex and hot air balloons. The Breitling Orbiter, driven by Bertrand Piccard and Brian Jones, departed from here in 1999 to complete the first round-the-world flight in a hot air balloon. They ended up making a total of 45,755 km distance! So if you know the full story, it’s even more special to visit the Chateau-d’Oex hot air balloon festival. At the Château-d’Oex hot air balloon museum, visitors can otherwise learn and discover more about the history of this crazy adventure.
What Can You Do At The Chateau-d’Oex hot air balloon festival?
As well as the hot air balloon museum, the Chateau-d’Oex hot air balloon festival is a great place for all ages. There are many things to do at the festival.
First things first, it’s good to know that you will need a festival ticket to get up close and personal with the hot air balloon area. The festival ticket is something you can you buy at the entrance of the site, so it’s not something you need to buy in advance to secure a spot.
For 2023 the price was only 15CHF per adult during a weekend visit, but on the first day this was not needed for paying. This seemed to have been due to the balloons only able to take off in the morning and lunch, with the official air show cancelled in the afternoon. So it was a shame that we couldn’t watch this!
A special feature of the Chateau-d’Oex hot air balloon festival is seeing hot air balloons up in the night sky, illuminating the mountains around the village. With the lit up hot air balloons, there is also a sound and light show. This was beautiful to see and experience, ending the show with local fireworks.
For our visit for 2023, this was not part of the festival due to the negative impact of the ongoing pandemic and the increase in the cost of raw materials in Europe. But based on photos we have seen from past events, it looks amazing. So we hope that things improve for a future event.
Enjoy A Hot Air Balloon Ride Yourself!
Yes that’s right, you can actually reserve a hot air balloon ride during this Swiss event. This is possible, of course with a price to pay, but with perfect conditions its well worth it. The take off is from right at the Chateau-d’Oex village, then it’s roughly a 3 hour trip total, with 1 full hour of floating around in the balloon and the rest of the time is for taking off, landing and coming back to the festival area by road transportation.
Check the official website for this because it’s best to book your hot air balloon flight before your visit. That way your flight in the skies is reserved and not sold out on the day.
Of course at most local Swiss events, there are always some easy snacks and drinks to buy. The event, when we visited in 2023, was providing tea, coffee and gluhwein at the drinks stand, as well as soup. At another stand we saw hot dogs (with Swiss cheese fillings as well) and fish and chips. We took some fish and chips, delicious!
As well as a hot air balloon ride, you can consider enjoying a helicopter flight instead. This allows you to be up and above the balloons. This is great experience to experience the local Pays-d’Enhaut area and event above. This is something you can only do and book when you are at the festival on the weekend dates.
This was a must for us and super exciting! When we arrived, we decided to go straight to the booth to buy our flight tickets. They were (for 2023) only 65CHF each and this provided a flight of around 5-8minutes around the mountains and hot air balloon area.
Once paid, you get your ticket and simply wait nearby for your flight. You don’t get a specific time, as it’s a matter of just queueing and joining others. The helicopter could take 4 people at a time with the pilot, so we joined another couple. The instructors help you get in, put your seatbelt on and then your on our way! It was very quick for take off, so if you plan to take photos makes sure to have your phone or camera already prepared.
The view from the flight was amazing, with the snowy mountains surrounding the festival area making it very picturesque. It was a short but very sweet flight, making it our first helicopter flight together in Switzerland!
Festival Travel Tips
If you’ve never been to the festival before, then you’ll be in for a treat. Here are our personal festival tips based on our experience:
Make sure to take your camera, Chateau-d’Oex is a pretty location! In good weather it’s great to have some unique photos of the balloons with the mountains too.
If you are visiting for only one day, make sure to get there before the hot air balloons lift off. Of course if you have a hot balloon flight booked for yourself, make sure to get there early. The experience to see all the balloons start up and float into the sky is a special sight. We loved how they all took off within a short amount of time together, making the sky very pretty with balloons all around!
Dress appropriately. You are in the mountains after all and the weather could make you chilly if you are out and about for most of the day. On our visit for 2023, it was -11°c during the day, so thermals sure were needed.