Filzmoos balloon festival takes place each January in the prettiest of Austrian villages nestled in the “ski amadé” region of Salzburgerland. The village lies in a pine-clad valley at the base of the Bischofsmütze Mountain surrounded by a winter wonderland of wooden chalets, fir trees and sparkling alpine scenery. Filzmoos has so much more to offer than skiing, snow-boarding and hiking. It’s also known as Austria’s Balloon Village. I went along to find out all about it.
Filzmoos Balloon Festival
Every January in Filzmoos, Austria a multitude of brightly coloured hot-air balloons lift gently into the skies against a snowy backdrop of majestic mountains. The International Dopgas Balloon Trophy takes place every January and I was in town with Inghams to check out the high-flying fun. We walked the ten minutes from our accommodation, Hotel Alpenkrone Filzmoos, as the sun struggled to break through the misty alpine morning. The race starts in Hammerweise the field where the balloons take off. The 2019 Dopgas Balloon Festival takes place from 12-19 January.
Filzmoos – The Balloon Village
Teams come to Filzmoos from all over the world to take part in the challenge. The unpacking had begun of around forty balloons and were laid out in the snow ready for unfurling and filling. Sleds were used to haul chunky wicker baskets into place which were then attached to the balloons.
Huge fans began to fill the billowing silks. Gas finishes the filling and vigorous noisy bursts accompanied bright shafts of flame as the balloons became plump and rounded. The trees were now obscured by balloons in various states of fullness as they jostled for space gradually growing bigger and bigger. Eager to leave they were kept from escaping too soon by tethers and ballast which kept them grounded.
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A flurry of activity surrounded each basket as people hurried to climb in ready for imminent take-off. Suddenly we were waving and craning our necks as the balloons lifted away. They rose rapidly into the sky, which was a crisp blue, and the sun lit the coloured silks as one by one they grew smaller and eventually disappeared into the distance. The race was on.
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The Dopgas Balloon Trophy
Filzmoos is one of the most beautiful places in Austria and makes the perfect backdrop for the race. Balloons gently took off from the field and lifted into the mountain air and set off on their way. Of course, a balloon race can’t be judged on speed nor can a destination be set because the wind and thermals over the alpine ranges are constantly changing. The Dopgas Balloon Challenge winner is the team who travels the furthest distance. We wouldn’t discover who the winners were that evening at Filzmoos Balloon Night.
Filzmoos Balloon Night
After spending the afternoon in the Filzmoos ski area we headed back to Hammerweise in the evening. A completely different scene awaited us. The crowded field wafted with the spicy smell of gluewein. Colourful stalls sold iced gingerbread, small chocolate covered cakes and Lebkuchen biscuits. The ink-black skies were clear and speckled with stars. Although it was bitterly cold the balloons, back from the race, cast a warm glow as they took turns to light up in time to the music. The Filzmoos balloon festival is one of the best things to do in Salzburg in winter.
In the blackness of the field random balloons would suddenly light up like light giant lightbulbs as blasts of flaming gas fired into them. They were tricky to photograph because I had no idea which one would light up next!
It was really toasty wandering amid the balloons because the gas lighting them up warmed us. The spicy mug of hot gluewein helped too. We left the field to watch from a distance and get an overall view of the balloons in all their glory. Our timing was perfect because the music started to build up to a choreographed finale. The glowing balloons accompanied the music with bursts of gas and light. Pop classics like The Eye of the Tiger and Bryan Adams’ Summer of ’69 belted out as the balloons glowed and dimmed in time to the music. A crescendo of Carmina Burana and a firework display brought the Filzmoos Balloon Festival to a spectacular close.
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I didn’t know anything like Filzmoos Balloon Festival existed until I saw this magical event for myself. I’ll now be on the look out for more events like this. Have you been to a balloon festival? Where did you see the balloons light up the night?
The 40th International DOPGAS Balloon Trophy is from 12 – 19 January 2019. Filzmoos ski has good family skiing in the winter months and is perfect for hiking and biking in the Summer.
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Thanks to Inghams who invited me to Filzmoos to check out the hot air balloons, skiing and delicious Austrian food.