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Cows and elephants take to Swiss skies

Balloons take to the sky above Chateau d'Oex


For the 23rd time, Chateau d'Oex is hosting a weeklong hot air balloon competition. From January 20 to 28, balloonists from around the world will compete in various events and prove that even cows can fly.

The balloon week lifts off with a fox chase. The pilots follow a fox through the skies above the resort in the western Pays d'Enhaut region, and try to land as close as possible to the target.

Another competition requires the pilots to follow the course of the Sarine River to Gruyère, where they are required to drop a marker into the centre of the courtyard of Gruyère castle.

The main event is called the David Niven Cup, named after the British actor who lived in Chateau d'Oex. Pilots try to cover as much distance as possible in their balloons. The record of 375 kilometres was set nearly 30 years ago.

The organisers are putting together numerous attractions for the general public. Special shaped balloons, including a cow, elephant and a newspaper will fly over the resort. Acrobatic hang gliders and skydivers will also demonstrate their skills.

On the ground, entertainment will be provided by carnival bands and street artists.

Passenger balloon flights are available during the week for SFr270 ($169) per person.



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