January in Switzerland A Swiss World Snow Festival & Hot Air Balloon Festival

by Shrutee K/DNS

What comes to mind when you think of Swiss winters? Snow-capped mountains and fur-clad people always on the lookout for an adventure? Or, do you dream of sitting by an open-log fire with warm fondue and a glass of the famous Glühwein wine for company? While all this imagery is only too accurate, it paints just half the picture of what Switzerland really has to offer during its renowned winter season.

The other half of this enchanting winter wonderland comprises decades of traditions kept alive through world-renowned festivals — a must-see for all visitors and residents alike. January is lined up with two global festivals that attract hordes of visitors each year living up the celebrations with equally enthusiastic locals. 

37th World Snow Festival (Jan 21-26, 2019)
When the temperature drops far below zero degrees in late January, artists and sculptors from all over the world gather at Grindelwald, near Interlaken to carve out extraordinary ice sculptures at the Six - Day World Snow Festival. What began several decades ago (with an ice sculpture carving by visiting Japanese Artists of the children’s book character, Heidi),has now taken on the form of an annual cultural gathering that has since become a part of the heritage of this glacier village.

The 2019 theme for the festival is ‘Dreams’, to celebrate ice-cold art. A jury of experts will judge the giant-snow sculptures. Visitors too are welcome to give their impressions of the works of art, which will later be taken into account by the judges. During the six-day duration of the festival, the streets of the snowy town of Grindelwald turn into a beautiful fantasy world with the white statues springing to life in each corner of the town. These alluring sculptures hold shape until the ice melts, creating an unforgettable experience for all those that witness their beauty. https://www.myswitzerland.com/en-in/events/event-206195309.html

41st International Hot Air Balloon Festival (Jan 26 – Feb 03, 2019)
If you’re someone who loves a bird’s eye view of the stunning vistas of Switzerland, head to the tiny village of Chateau d’Oex between January 26 and February 03, 2019. Every year, this global capital of hot-air ballooning welcomes adventure enthusiasts from across the world for a week-long series of demonstrations and competitions. For its 41st edition this year, more than 70 multi-coloured and multi-shaped hot-air balloons will slowly rise to the sky, creating not only a magical setting for viewers on the ground, but also for those lucky ones up in the balloon. Sweeping views of Grand-Combin, the Matterhorn and the Bernese Alps will reward you with a lifetime of memories and picture-perfect snaps. That, however, is not the best part of this ride! You’ll be so close to snow-clad mountain peaks, that you’ll feel you can almost touch them.

The highlight of this festival, however, is the ‘Night Glow’ event after dark, where some 20 illuminated balloons and para-gliders fly to a musical soundtrack with some beautiful fireworks thrown in.  There’s also loads of children’s activities and air shows other than the balloon rides, making this festival a much-anticipated date in the Swiss Calendar. https://www.myswitzerland.com/en-in/events/event-575119187.html

Surely, Switzerland’s winters never seem to disappoint! Don’t forget to wrap up warmly.


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