Hot air balloons soar over snowy Swiss town

By Denis Balibouse

CHATEAU D'OEX, Switzerland (Reuters) - Tucked in a valley surrounded by snow-capped peaks, the sleepy Swiss town of Chateau d'Oex emerges from its slumber to host a hot-air balloon festival that draws thousands of spectators and flying enthusiasts.

During a nine-day celebration ending on Sunday, 60 brightly-coloured hot balloons from 15 countries will soar through the sky over the valley, known for winds that make for particularly good flying.

"The special thing about flying in Chateau d'Oex is that we can take off in the morning, fly in one direction ... and in the afternoon the wind just turns around," Thomas Spildooren, a hot air balloon pilot, said from his balloon's gondola on Tuesday.

Some hot air balloon flights had to be cancelled on Monday due to unusually strong winds but festivities fully resumed the next day.

"Every trouble in daily life just seems so small when you go up in the air,' Spildooren said. "You go with the wind, you go with the flow."

(Reporting by Denis Balibouse; Writing by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Tomasz Janowski)