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The Event's History

2013 The 35th edition took place from the 26th of January to the 3rd of February. In total, almost 30’000 people participated. The flights in hot air balloons were possible five days on nine days of Festival. Altogether there were almost 400 take off during the event. Because of the nice weather, the first week end broke a record with 105 flights in the only day of Saturday (the last record was in 2006 with 101 flights). The best of the week were, the wingsuit jump from an hot air balloon basket and from an helicopter of Geraldine Fasnacht. The Wednesday, the traditional Children afternoon gave the opportunity to 300 kids to fly. The 15 special forms flying made the happiness of adults and children, as well as the show of ASIMO (an human robot from Honda) during the last week end in the “Grande Salle de Château d’Oex”. This year, the Festival had the chance to count on Brian Jones who presented a world unique hot air balloon, which gives the opportunity to disabled people to learn how to fly an hot air balloon. The performance of the Ecoballon Total gave the opportunity to the Pierrick Duvoisin’s crew to reach St-Marino in Italy, in 5 hours, during a long distance flight.

2012 The 34h edition took place from the 21th to the 29th January 2012. This edition was affected by the bad weather which permitted only 2 days of flight. The opening ceremony brought many visitors and some celebrities such as Kirsty Bertarelli (Ernesto Bertarelli’s wife). During the first week end, some shows of the Super Puma from the Swiss army and some inflating of the special forms air balloons took place. The week began the best way possible with the David Niven Cup, a long distance competition in a new version for that year.  Crews took part to the run flying over 6km high. The winners, Arnaud Favre and Pierrick Duvoisin landed near Milano in Italy after a 215.8 km flight. The children afternoon brought over 300 kids who had the pleasure to try some tethered flight and who took part in a big balloon release contest. The furthest balloon arrived in the South of France, 350 km from the departure! The Thursday was the most beautiful day with more than 150 flights and the possibility for some young disabled people from the Foundation Just For Smile to fly in a tethered flight. Despite the unstable weather, the Night Glow, whose theme was the “Abba” music, brought around 5000 visitors.

2011 The 33th edition was opened by Henri Dès the 22nd of January 2011. The opening flight of the new Château d’Oex’s hot air balloon was simply perfect. From the 22nd to the 30th ou January 2011, the weather conditions were excellent and permitted 7,5 days of flight on 9 : a record! 960 hours of flight and almost 800 flights took place. 62’000 visitor came by! The incredibly good conditions gave the opportunity to realise the whole program: the show of the “Puma” helicopter from the Swiss army, the acrobatic plane show from Jérôme Cusin, the demonstration of some solarballoons and the Solar Jump, the show of acrobatic flights in paraglide, some wingsuits flights and skydiving. Many special forms hot air balloons, including Obelix who flew for the first time in public, made the happiness of the children. The Night glow whose theme was “Do, ré, mi, fa, sol, la Suisse s’envole” made many visitors happy. Many journalists were present with in particular NHK the Japanese TV channel which produced a show of 89 minutes on the Château d’Oex’s International Hot Air Balloon Festival This show came out the 27th of March 2011.

2010 From the 23rd of January the 31st of January. This 32nd edition suffered from the bad weather. In total, 3 days of flights were made but as much as 386 flights and 397 hours up in the air. The 22’000 people took part in the International Hot Air Balloon Festival. The cancellation of the Night Glow for the very first time in his history brought all the organizers to think of alternatives in case of bad conditions in the future. However, the new idea of this year to have other types of air shows such as the Super Puma from the Swiss army or the Extra 330 SC opened other doors for the next years. The Swiss team of paraglide was also there as well as two new special shapes : the Lady Jocker and the Stratolini. The incredibly beautiful flight of the 10 years twinning helped to enforce the links between these four countries. The partnership with the Association Savoir Patient, permitted us to organize a gala dinner to raise funds to help preventing breath cancer.

2009 From the 24th of January to the 1st of February. This 31st edition opened and closed with snow. However, on 9 days, only 2 did not permit the hot air balloons to fly because of the weather. The pilots enjoyed 7 wonderful days of flight, altogether there were 619 take off, which means almost 1’000 hours flight with 600 passengers on board. A nice result for the hundred pilots coming from all around the world. Two new special shapes coming from Holland were there. In total, around 40’000 people came to Château d’Oex to see the amazing colourful balloons in the Swiss sky. 15’000 visitors attended the incredible show of the Night Glow which theme this year was James Bond. During this edition, a new partnership is born : the International Hot Air Balloon Festival decided to help the ASAP working to prevent breath cancer. Three events were celebrated during this 31st edition ; the 10 years of the world tour of Bertrand Piccard and Brian Jones, the 20 years of the comics “La Vrille” of Albert Weinberd and the 30 years of the CAIBAC.

2008 The 30th edition of the International Hot Air Balloon Festival took place from the 19th to the 27th of January. This year broke almost all the records! One thousand take off during 8 days on 9, 140 pilots, a dozen special shapes and 95 hot air balloons including 2 airships coming from 18 different countries. The opening ceremony came with a wonderful birthday cake on 3 levels and of 3400m3! The other historic record: 65’000 visitors including 12’000 for the Night Glow enjoyed this 30th birthday. For the first time in Switzerland, we had the great pleasure to welcome Asimo, an high-tech human robot constructed by Honda. At the end of this event, a few principal actors of the Festival decided to retire after many years of volunteering to let their place to new people.

2007 Bertrand Piccard and Brian Jones, the new ambassadors of the Festival, opened the 29th edition which took place form the 20th to the 28th of January. 3 new hot air balloons took off for the first time after burning in 2006, Château d’Oex (the little horse), Honda (Asimo) and BCV. 140 pilots, 95 hot air balloons and 17 different countries were there. On 4 half days and 2 full days of flight the weather conditions were perfect to take off, more than 475 flight took place. An average of 80 hot air balloons a day (more than 100 the last Sunday) took off to complete altogether 540 hours of flight. 12 disabled children coming to a camp in Château d’Oex could enjoy tethered flight thanks to an hot air balloon adapted to wheel chair. The show of the night glow “tout feu, tout flame” continued to encounter an huge success with 10’000 visitors on the Temple hill and in the village.

2006 From the 21st to the 29th of January, the event changes his name and become the “Festival International de Ballons”. This 28th edition was opened by Miss Swiss Lauriane Gilléron. 50’000 visitors came to Château d’Oex during 9 days, including 10’000 for the wonderful night-glow. In total 147 pilots met to produce a wonderful show during 6 days of flight. They did 522 take off for 743 hours of flight and 60’000 litres of propane used altogether. The children afternoon was a huge success with 500 tethered flights. The only bad event of the week was the fire in the Centre Alpin International de Ballons à Air Chaud garage which destroyed 4 hot air balloons. The incredible solidarity helped to replace these balloons.

2005 January : opened by Jürg Schmid, the director of Swiss Tourism, the assessment of this 27th edition is mitigate : 3 half days and one full day of flight on 9 days of the event! Thanks to the snow and the wind. The pilots could not fly much but they enjoyed all the other winter sports of Château d’Oex. Fortunately, it was possible to fly a lot on the Friday: 193 hours and 53 minutes! Good news for the Night Glow on the Friday night which was the best of the week. The children afternoon, with the presence of the young drawer Arnaut Dousse, even without hot air balloon, made the happiness of all the visitors. The end of the Festival was wonderful thanks to an extremely sunny last Sunday accompanied of excellent winds.

2004 January : around 38'000 is the number of people who came for this 26th edition despite a weather that could be way better. A mitigate year but a cheer for the organizers. In the news, the Balloon Village which makes the link between the village of Château d’Oex and the take-off site: a huge success.

January : the International week of Hot air Balloon in Château d’Oex celebrates its 25th birthday. For this, a magazine of 50 pages in colour is printed at 5000 copies. Steve Fossett (the first pilot to realize the world tour by himself) opens the 25th edition. Many celebrities are there including His Imperial Highness Nilufer Sultane of Turkey, the Prince Albert of Monaco and Gunther Sachs. The Night Glow of the Friday night brings 10’000 delighted visitors. The media cover is excellent, more than 150 journalists and many TV channels, including Reuters which releases the pictures of Château d’Oex all around the world. An incredible year also for the pilots: 6 days and a half of flight, 657 take-offs, 818 hours of flight and one long distance flight made by Klaus-Peter Sengspeck of 187,5 km until the Constance Lake. The number of visitors approaches the 60’000 for the whole week. Philippe Sublet, the president of the organisation committee during 14 years retired the week of Hot Air Balloons as well as his role of director in the Tourism office. Laurent Exchaquet, the man who organized the Night Glow and Raymond Magnenat quit as well the organisation committee after 25 years of excellent work.

2002 The 34th edition took place from the 19th to the 27th of January and was simply excellent. 7 wonderful days permitted the 90 pilots to fly around 800 hours. The biggest balloon ever constructed (7300m3), wearing the colours of Château d’Oex, was unveiled by Zep (Titeuf’s dad). Lolita Morena also visited the Festival. The media cover was once again incredibly good, the week of the Hot Air Ballons was on the news of many TV channels: TSR, TSI, SF1, SF2, TF1, ICI TV, RTL4; and Reuters released pictures all around the world. The channel SF1 made a direct of 6 minutes showing the Night Glow. 

2001 January: the 23rd International Week of Hot Air Balloons was opened by the adventurer from South Africa Mike Horn (the first man to complete a world tour on foot, VTT and sailing on the Equator). The new balloon from SkyEvent (7000m3) flew for the first time. After 3 days of flight, the rain caused the hot air balloons to stay on the ground for 48 hours. The wonderful show “Night Glow” on the Friday night produced by Laurent Exchaquet was a huge success. The Sunday show from the 28th of January will stay in the memories of the 20’000 spectators. More than 500 take-offs took place in 85 hot air balloons coming from 15 countries, 351 passengers flew and 40’000 visitors came to Château d’Oex. The 140 journalists present, the Reuters agency, the International Swiss TV, BBC, RAI 3, Turkey TV, Russian TV and the TSR released pictures and articles about the Festival all around the world.

2000 January: the pilots Bertrand Piccard and Brian Jones opened the 22nd International Week of Hot Air Balloons. After the opening ceremony and the flight of about ten hot air balloons, the snow felt during three days. The take-offs were not possible until the Tuesday, the pilots did around 9 flights in 5 days, which means 558 take-offs corresponding to 700 hours flight in total. 160 journalists and a dozen TV channel were present. Hans Kordel (D) landed in France, in Bourbon in the north of Roanne, after 260 km flight, during the David Niven Cup. The children afternoon of the Wednesday was a huge success, more than 500 kids could enjoy a tethered flight. The night of the Night Glow was incredible with 6’000 visitors, 30 hot air balloons, more than 1’500 torches, 8 sky divers and wonderful fireworks.

1999 March: the hot air balloon “Breitling Orbiter III” took off from Château d’Oex the 1st of March at 09.05, on board: Bertrand Piccard (CH) and Brian Jones (GB). After 19 days, 21 hours and 47 minutes of flight, the “Breitling Orbiter III” lands on the 21st of March at 6.57 in the desert near the Mut oasis in Egypt. This expedition breaks all the records: it is the longest flight in time and in distance (with 45’755 km). Thanks to the first world tour in hot air balloon, Bertrand Piccard and Brian Jones went down in history, as well as Château d’Oex!

1998 January: for the 20th birthday, the Tourism Office of Château d’Oex printed a wonderful book called “Château d’Oex Atmosphère” of 160 pages which tells all about the history of the amazing International Week of Hot Air Balloons. The “Breitling Orbiter II” took off the 28th of January 1998 at 09.55 with on board Bertrand Piccard (CH), Wim Verstraeten (B) and Andy Elson (GB) in front of 10’000 people and cameras from all around the world. The flight lasted 9 days, 17 hours and 51 minutes, breaking then the world record of the longest flight in a roziere balloon. The “Breitling Orbiter II” landed in Burma on the 7th of February 1998 at 09.16.

1997 January: the roziere of Bertrand Piccard and Wim Verstraeten took off from Château d’Oex for the first attempt to carry out a world tour without any stop. The logistic problems the “Breitling Orbiter I” met obliged the pilots to splash down a few hours later in the Mediterranean Sea.

1996 January: 18th Week of Hot Air Balloons – who would have believed it! 730 flights of hot air balloons took place in Château d’Oex. 88’000 litres of propane were necessary for these balloons to fly, an average of 87 minutes flight. 457 people flew in hot air balloons. 60’000 people, 150 journalists and 12 TV channel (including the agency Reuters which supply 470 channels around the world) visited Château d’Oex. The main TV channels released, during the first week end, the pictures of the event. The Friday night, thousands of people saw the incredible show of the “Night Glow”. The same night, six fire-eater made a hot air balloon take off with its envelop of 2’200 m3 with the only help of petrol and their lungs. For the first time, the long distance competition, “David Niven Cup”, were under the aegis of the FAI, the pilot Benoît Siméon won this competition landing on the Titlis Glacier. For the first time as well, a theme was given to the festival: World of balloon – world of children. Many funds raising permitted to give “Terre des homes” 14’000.- CHF.

1995 17th Week of Hot Air Balloons. 88 pilots from 18 different countries, including, for the first time, a crew from China. Due to the weather, only 4 flights took place between the 21st and the 29th of January, for a total of 227 flights and a consumption of 26’300 litres of propane. The long distance competition “David Niven Cup” received the price of “Premier Sporting Event” form the FAI. It is the first time in its history that the FAI gives such a price. Unfortunately, due to bad weather, this competition did not take place in 1995.

1994 February: 4th world championship of airships from the 2nd to the 6th of February 1994. It is the first time that such a huge event takes place in Switzerland, in the mountain and in winter. 16 pilots from 9 countries participated during 12 event all around the “Pays d’Enhaut”. 10’000 people including many medias came to Château d’Oex for this event. Le French Vincent Dupuis won the world championship, J. Petersen (D) arrived second and O. Lindstrom (S) finished third.

1993 15th International Week of Hot Air Balloons. 50’000 visitors, 200 journalists including 10 TV channels came to Château d’Oex. The agency Reuters released pictures of the event to 500 TV channels from all around the world. 25 hours show on 8 radios were produced. During the 7 sunny days, 701 Hot Air Balloons took off and consumed 72’000 litres of propane, 449 passengers enjoyed the pleasure of flying.

1992 January: 14th International Week of Hot Air Balloon. 45’000 visitors, 200 journalists, 8 national TV channels. The Swiss pilot Jakob Burkard broke a new record of distance, landing in Mery-en-Bois, France, after a flight of 375 km, at an average high of 7’000 meters.

1989 January: 11th International Week of Hot Air Balloons. The year of all the records: 70 hot air balloons from 14 countries took part to the 9 sunny days of the event. 150 journalists, 8 TV channels and more than 25’000 visitors came to Château d’Oex.

1979 February: the Tourism Office, with the collaboration of Hans Brücker, organized the 1st International Week of Hot Air Balloon, with the participation of 12 hot air balloons from 5 countries. This original activity permits to promote Château d’Oex in Switzerland and aboard.
October: the first hot air balloons Château d’Oex is unveiled by the Swiss skier Marie-Thérèse Nadig.

1978 October: Charles-André Ramseier, Director of the Tourisme Office met the German hot air balloon pilot Hans Brücker, he suggested him to organise a passenger flight in the valley.


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